Bombardier sees stronger demand for business jets

(Reuters) - Bombardier Inc <BBDb.TO> reported a 13 percent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by strength in both its plane- and train-making divisions, and said demand for business jets was beginning to pick up.

Business jet orders, which fell sharply in 2009 as companies cut spending and tighter credit made purchases difficult, are getting back on track with the global economic recovery.

Bombardier, the world's No. 3 civil aircraft maker after Boeing <BA.N> and Airbus <EAD.PA>, forecast in March that it would deliver 150 business jets and 90 commercial aircraft in calendar 2011, an estimate based on an 11-month financial year.

Overall backlog was $55.1 billion as of April 30, compared with $52.7 billion on January 31, Bombardier said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Our commercial aircraft segment, although slower to recover, is seeing an improved level of interest from customers," said Chief Executive Pierre Beaudoin.

The company, which has 90 firm orders for the 110- to 145-seat planes, has not announced a C-Series order since February 2010 but hopes are high it will garner some at the Paris Air Show in June.

Bombardier, which is also the No. 1 train maker, reported net profit of $220 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with $195 million, or 11 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 10 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 9 percent to $4.66 billion.

Revenue at the aerospace segment rose 10 percent to $2.2 billion. The aerospace segment received 86 net orders during the quarter, up from 61 in the year-ago period.

Bombardier's aerospace unit got a major lift in March from a massive order of up to 120 business jets from Warren Buffett's NetJets Inc, a deal that could be worth as much as $6.

The transportation segment's revenue was up 9 percent at $2.5 billion.

Bombardier said free cash flow usage totaled $409 million in the first quarter, which is typically a seasonally weak quarter for the Montreal-based company. That compared with a usage of $217 million last year.

Shares of Montreal-based Bombardier closed at C$6.75 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver and Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)