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Airbus Group Q1 core earnings fall in "challenging year"

Airbus on Thursday posted slightly higher-than-expected core profit and reaffirmed targets for the year, while warning of serious challenges for its A400M military plane and reporting a heavy drain on cash due to delayed jet deliveries.

Airbus plane in hanger
Eric Cabanis | Getty Images
Airbus plane in hanger

Widely watched operating earnings before one-off items at Europe's largest aerospace group fell 23 percent to 501 million euros ($567.8 million) as revenue gained 1 percent to 12.183 billion euros.

Analysts were on average predicting core operating earnings before one-off items of 494 million euros on revenue of 11.946 billion, according to a Reuters survey.

Airbus Group reported a heavier-than-expected seasonal outflow of cash, reaching 2.9 billion euros, as problems with suppliers and other issues hold up jet deliveries. Industry sources said last week a queue of undelivered jets was hurting the company's cashflow.

This year "turns out to be the challenging year we anticipated," Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said. "Overall, we expect a stable financial performance, but deliveries, cash and earnings will be heavily loaded towards the end of the year."

Airbus said the financial impact of engine gearbox problems on the A400M could be "significant" but could not yet be estimated. It reaffirmed production goals for its new A350 jetliner but said the programme was "increasingly challenging".

Airbus said it expected European governments to resume export financing "in the near future". European agencies suspended export credits, and Britain alerted fraud police earlier this month after Airbus said it had found errors in declarations on the use of agents in jet sales.