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JUNE 2013

Pockets of Turbulence The 2013 Aerospace & Defense Industry Outlook

© 2013 AlixPartners, LLP

inside Airlines Defense Commercial Aerospace Supply Chain MRO


Pockets of Turbulence


he global aerospace and defense (A&D) industry is continuing its growth in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis, yet it remains an extremely dynamic marketplace, in which some sectors are booming and others are experiencing pockets of severe turbulence. According to the AlixPartners 2013 Aerospace & Defense Industry Outlook, an indepth analysis of sector and company financials and key macroeconomic trends, the A&D industry grew by 6.8% in 2012. This was up from 2011’s sales growth of 5.5% but still not at precrisis growth levels, which hit 10% in 2008. Commercial aerospace companies represent perhaps the strongest segment of the industry: they delivered more than 1,300 jets worldwide in 2013—a record for the industry— and new orders continue to roll in. Meanwhile, in contrast to this growth among airlines and commercial aircraft originalequipment manufacturers (OEMs), the defense sector is shrinking. Even though some of the developing-market countries are ramping up spending, the increases are not enough to make up for a sharp decline in spending by developed nations, primarily the United States, which continues to face fiscal uncertainties. According to the Outlook, the defense sector will struggle to make up for reduced top-line growth; the commercial aerospace sector will benefit from an increase in strong deliveries and will focus on translating that growth into a bigger share of the profit pool. Given this challenge, A&D companies need to become more efficient and wring costs out of their operations at all levels. In the defense sector

© 2013 AlixPartners, LLP

particularly, companies must diversify into new, more-promising international markets, where the rules of engagement are also changing. The industry will likely remain highly competitive for the foreseeable future, yet there is strong growth potential in some markets, as well as greater profits for companies nimble enough to identify and exploit those markets.

Airlines: Growth returns, but profits still languish The airline sector reflects the current good-news/ bad-news state of the A&D industry. Steady traffic growth—5.3% in 2012—is leading to improved revenue, and the airlines have become much more disciplined on capacity than they were in the past. (Capacity grew 3.9% last year.) Still, airlines have struggled to translate these improvements to the bottom line, and strong profits remain elusive. Current projections call for operating margins of just 3.3% in 2013. Operators are being squeezed on both sides: high fuel prices have raised operating costs, and low-cost carriers and new global competitors have kept pressure on pricing. Even if fuel costs revert to historical averages at some point, the competitive factors are likely here to stay. As a result, the airline sector is in flux. The formerly strong European and US markets are in decline, and operators are either restructuring (American Airlines, SAS Scandinavian, Spanair) or merging (American–US Airways, ContinentalUnited, International Airlines Group–Vueling). As growth in mature markets has flattened, the industry’s center of gravity has shifted to morerapidly-growing markets in Asia and the Middle


Pockets of Turbulence East, which show favorable demographics and growing middle classes that are more and more inclined to travel by air. Accordingly, airlines in these markets are building up their fleets and placing large orders (figure 1). Indonesia’s Lion Air, for example, ordered 234 A320s in March 2013—the biggest commercial airline order in industry history. (Even Africa showed 7.2% traffic growth in 2012, though admittedly from a small base.) By 2031, the Asia-Pacific region will be the biggest airline market in the world, receiving 31% of all new jet deliveries.

The fundamental message for airlines is that the product they ostensibly sell is no longer mere transportation. When that product was a commodity—a seat that takes passengers from point A to point B—airlines could differentiate based only on price and schedule. Today, they can differentiate using merchandising and marketing. They can develop innovative product and service offerings that stand apart from the competition. And they can use state-of-the-art marketing to ensure that their brand is clear in the market.

The second area of flux among airlines is in operating models, as the line between low-cost and full-service carriers has blurred. Traditional network carriers have unbundled their pricing to give passengers lower fares overall, with a menu of available add-ons. Meanwhile, low-cost providers have added new services—for example, businessclass tickets and long-haul routes—along with service innovations like live in-flight television.

Defense: A painful contraction and a shift to the East





9.5% 7.2% 6.5%

7.5% 6.0% 5.2% 5.1%

5.3% 3.9%

2.9% 1.1% 0.1% Africa

Asia Pacific


Latin Middle North Total America East America Market

Source: International Air Transport Association Forecasts Feb 2013; ASK = available seat kilometers; RPK = revenue passenger kilometers  

© 2013 AlixPartners, LLP

The defense sector is experiencing a similar shift from mature Western markets—where cuts in defense budgets have made business far more challenging—to faster-growing regions, in Asia. Global defense spending decreased in 2012 for the first time since 1998, to $1.7 trillion. That includes 3 to 4% cuts in most of the major Western markets (5.8% in the United States, the largest market worldwide). Asian countries outspent European NATO countries for the first time—and will continue to do so (figure 2). Compounding this transition, two of the largest developing-market spenders—China and Russia— are effectively off-limits for outside contractors. Chinese defense spending is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% for the next decade. This is tremendous growth that Western contractors cannot tap. (By 2016, China and Russia will account for 32% of all defense spending among the top five markets worldwide, up from only 17% in 2011.) Defense manufacturers are now fighting to capture the addressable


Pockets of Turbulence directly exposed to the impact of sequestration, which requires short-term cuts.

25% 20% 15%

CAGR 2011–2016


China Brazil

India Russia

10% 5%

Saudi Arabia

Germany Italy – 5% 5% Japan France UK – 5% US

CAGR 2007–2011 10%




– 10%

subsegment of developing markets—primarily India, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia—even as Russian and Chinese contractors increase their exports to those markets as well. These issues are not likely to change soon. Contractors that sell to the United States will be exposed to a confluence of factors, including sequestration and a drawdown in military activity once US forces leave Afghanistan in 2014. The situation will have varying effects depending on a manufacturer’s offering and geographic focus. Suppliers that have fairly diversified portfolios minimize their exposure to cuts in specific programs. Many OEMs, however, are vulnerable: our research indicates that 80% are reliant on defense and 75% are dependent on US and European markets. Similarly, companies that depend on annual appropriations—such as ship repair and the supply of operational consumables like ammunition and protected vehicles—are © 2013 AlixPartners, LLP

Among European firms, the threats are even more dire. As major programs like combat aircraft and shipbuilding ramp down, European contractors are now struggling to sustain innovation and industrial capacity. In the absence of a major new initiative to radically restructure European defense capacity, the industry is dangerously close to a point of no return. The situation is not yet do or die, but it is clearly do or decline. To succeed in this environment, defense companies must: • Continue to reduce costs. Companies need to improve their value proposition to customers—in other words, affordability has to become a reality, not just remain a buzzword— and increase their returns to shareholders. • Focus on international markets. Competitions for major programs are increasing winner-take-all arrangements, such as combat aircraft in developing markets; and OEMs must adapt their offerings accordingly. Pure offset deals are dying; most of the developing-market buyers demand transfer of technology, final assembly line, or local suppliers. • Rebalance portfolios. A shift from big bets on major programs to a more balanced portfolio—including, say, electronics and cyber—may also help mitigate exposure to further cuts. • Consolidate in Europe. Excess capacity in combat air, defense electronics, and shipbuilding is currently unsustainable, requiring a major effort with strong government leadership.


Pockets of Turbulence Commercial aerospace: Booming with new products The strongest sector within the A&D industry last year was commercial aerospace, which not only expanded but also accelerated its growth, particularly among OEMs. Boeing revenues grew 18.9% in 2012, and EADS by 12.7%. Current projections call for that growth to continue, due largely to a huge backlog of orders ($390 billion for Boeing and €638 billion for EADS at list price, a total of more than 9,000 aircraft). We expect that by 2017, the workload volume of OEMs’ main commercial programs will have ramped up by 45% and will include a significant surge in major new programs, with further increases on the horizon. At the same time, both OEMs and suppliers are translating those gains into improved earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). Supplier segments—including propulsion, cabin interiors, and components and materials—built on their EBIT momentum from earlier years, with strong performers such as Precision Castparts, Safran, Rolls-Royce, UTC, Parker Hannifin, and Zodiac. Among OEMs, EADS has shown significant growth in EBIT; other competitors are still slowly returning to 2007 levels. Overall, suppliers remain more profitable than OEMs by a gap of nearly five percentage points (figure 3). That said, other indicators show that the gap in financial performance between OEMs and suppliers is starting to close. For example, OEM revenue growth is now accelerating—from 1.6% in 2011 to 6.7% in 2012—and supplier growth seems to be slowing down: from 10.2% in 2011 to 6.6% in 2012. Similarly, an analysis of cash return on © 2013 AlixPartners, LLP

FIGURE 3: EBIT MARGIN GROWTH (%, 2005-2012) +0.8 ppt 8.8% 7.6%





9.0% 6.7%


+ 1.8 ppt

– 1.4 ppt 8.8%











Suppliers 9.8%



10.7% 7.5%

9.6% 8.2%



7.4% 5.9%











ppt = percentage point Sources: Capital IQ, AlixPartners analysis

capital invested (CROCI) shows that suppliers have trended downward since 2007, whereas OEMs have improved their CROCI performance. In part, this is because the backlog in orders has allowed OEMs to build up stronger cash positions. Moving forward, the commercial aerospace profit pool will continue to grow at a rate of 5% per year, driven in part by both airframe and engine manufacturers’ new technologies intended to improve aircraft operating efficiency. Aircraft deliveries will increase 2.3% a year for the next decade. As the profit pool gets larger, commercial aircraft OEMs will fight to increase their share, by developing new aircraft designs and ramping up production for both narrowbody and wide-body aircraft.


Pockets of Turbulence Supply chain: Challenges on the horizon The coming increase in sales volume is a positive sign, but it will create significant challenges for A&D supply chains. As noted earlier, we project a 45% ramp-up in workload by 2017, with new programs like the A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX, and Bombardier C Series that will tax engineering and industrial service functions. These new programs also involve more-technologicallycomplex designs aimed at increasing aircraft operating efficiency by 15 to 20%. Such advances include composite materials, fuel-efficient engines, and new systems, including avionics, fuel, braking, and electric systems.

The current industry supply chain is not always ready for this dual challenge of delivering a greater volume of more-sophisticated aircraft. In fact, there is a real and growing risk of supply chain disruptions. Certain suppliers have only limited expertise and modest engineering capabilities for implementing and sustaining several programs, especially in the detailed-parts and aerostructures segments. Some suppliers and OEMs have taken early steps to handle those limitations—for example, by more directly involving and closely monitoring tier 1 aerostructure suppliers in new programs—but those measures represent a new risk-sharing model for which neither side is yet mature enough to implement and monitor.






OEMs Large-scale integration Small-scale integration Value-added parts and assemblies Make-to-print parts Raw materials • • • •

Many supply paths Many direct suppliers Limited role for integrators Some role for value-adding suppliers

• • • •

Fewer supply paths Far fewer direct suppliers Extensive role for integrators Still-larger role for valueadding parts suppliers

• Few risk-sharing partners • Unbundling of modules and systems by OEMs • Tier 2/tier 3 supplier nomination by OEMs • Small supplier base in each segment

Reduced supplier base managed by OEM and tier 1

© 2013 AlixPartners, LLP


Pockets of Turbulence More and more, OEMs will have to lead operational improvement programs at their key suppliers, and tier 1 suppliers will have to develop similar measures further down the supply chain. As tier 1 responsibility shifts to include not only full-system but subsystem specs and integration, OEMs will have to work with those specs and that integration to ensure the OEMs have the sufficient competencies in place. In addition, OEMs will have to continue streamlining their supply chains through restructuring and integration efforts (figure 4). Consolidation is especially needed in the detailed-parts-supplier segments, and OEMs must actuate that process.

We expect that airlines will continue to outsource their maintenance segments in greater volume, such as Finnair’s deal with SR Technics, and American’s outsourcing of its 757 and wide-body maintenance.

MRO: Solid growth — and a shuffling of competitors

Another trend affecting the MRO business is that next-generation aircraft and engines simply require less maintenance. For example, the Boeing 787 requires C and D checks at half the frequency of the 767. And profits remain elusive: only a few premium players can reach an EBIT margin of 10%.

Worldwide, the maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) market grew 11% in 2012, from $50.9 billion to $56.8 billion. The civil air transport fleet, including regional jets and turboprops, is currently at about 26,000 aircraft, and that number will grow sharply in the coming decades: in 15 years, the in-service fleet will be about twice as large as today’s. That growth will lure new entrants to the MRO field and realign the competitive landscape, and we are already seeing evidence of the shuffling. For example, Goodrich merged with Hamilton in 2012 to form UTAS, a megaplayer in the component flight-hour-services (FHS) field, with a strong intellectual property position on several new platforms like the Boeing 787. In other shifts, the US market saw several bankruptcies, and the component MRO business of Aveos was taken over by A J Walter Aviation.

© 2013 AlixPartners, LLP

More broadly, aircraft OEMs are extending their reach into the MRO business. Airbus FHS and Boeing Edge could become major players in the segment in the next three to five years. The two companies can build on their unique access to airlines and can challenge component OEMs such as cabin equipment manufacturers by implementing major new programs and platforms.

In sum, there is a clear growth opportunity in the MRO segment, but to win, operators will have to navigate a dynamic market. Key requirements will be access to capital, willingness to invest long term, and a footprint with operations close to the fleet of tomorrow, including strong coverage in Asia.

Thriving in an unstable market The compounding effects of the growing markets in Asia and the Middle East, rapidly evolving technologies, and fiscal strains on mature markets in Europe and the United States will likely lead to instability for the A&D industry over the coming years. Successful companies in the industry will


Pockets of Turbulence focus on several priorities. First, profitability is an ongoing challenge, and companies must redouble their efforts to reduce costs. Those that can achieve more-efficient operations and greater EBIT margins can give themselves the head room to pursue future opportunities—and endure future downturns. Second, companies should accelerate their diversification into new and faster-growth markets. This entails more than a mere geographic change—with the inherent supply chain challenges—and involves the tailoring of

products and services for customer segments with varying priorities and requirements. Last, innovation is a major theme across all segments. The ability to identify and anticipate demand for new products and services—often driven by new technologies—will be a clear differentiator in A&D companies. These are sizable challenges, yet they also point to clear opportunities. A&D operators that can get these three areas right can give themselves a clear, competitive edge in a volatile industry.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Eric Bernadini Managing Director [email protected] +33 1 76 74 72 06

David Fitzpatrick Managing Director [email protected] +1 (415) 848-0307

ABOUT ALIXPARTNERS AlixPartners conducts a broad range of surveys and research in industries around the globe. To learn more about our publications, please visit www.alixpartners.com/en/whatwethink.aspx. AlixPartners, LLP is a global business advisory firm offering comprehensive services in four major areas: enterprise improvement, turnaround and restructuring, financial advisory services, and information management services. The firm was founded in 1981 and can be found on the Web at www.alixpartners.com. © 2013 AlixPartners, LLP

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