Paris (AFP) - Airbus Group showed stellar performance in the first half of the year, raising net profits by half thanks to strong sales of airliners, it reported on Wednesday.
The results coupled with a confirmed outlook for performance, pushed Airbus shares up sharply.
The group said that net profit jumped by 50 percent from the equivalent figure last year to 1.4 billion euros ($1.88 billion) in the first half.
The underlying profit margin rose to 6.5 percent of sales from 6.3 percent, and sales rose by 6.0 percent to 27.2 billion euros.
The group said it was holding to its targets for moderate growth of operating profitability.
In 2015, it expected profitability of 7.0-8.0 percent excluding the costs of developing the A330neo, the fuel-efficient version of the A330 aircraft.
The European aerospace group, which has changed its name from EADS, builds equipment for the defence and space industries, but most of its sales and profits come from making Airbus airliners.
In common with its main rival, US group Boeing, it has taken huge orders for airliners in the last 18 months.
The boom comes as airlines around the world replenish their fleets now that the financial strains of the global crisis are easing, and also because airlines in emerging markets are growing fast as air traffic is expected to do in the next decade.
Demand for the group's products was strong, as shown by activity at the Farnborough air show in Britain in July where the company had taken orders and commitments for 496 airliners, it said in a statement.
This confirmed the health of the market for commercial aircraft, it said.
The price of shares in the group was showing a gain of 5.21 percent to 45.96 euros in late morning trading. The overall French market as measured by the CAC 40 index was down 0.13 percent.
- Results surprise analysts -
Airbus also said that it was looking at ways of selling its stake of 46.32 percent in French company Dassault Aviation which makes fighter jets and small commercial aircraft, an investment which it considers is not strategic. Shares in this company rose by 1.21 percent to 1,120 euros.
The value of orders taken by the group in the six months was 27.7 billion euros, lifting the total value of the order book at catalogue prices to 677.4 billion euros at the end of June, slighty down from 680.6 billion euros 12 months ago.
For the whole of 2014, the number of aircraft delivered would be about the same as last year, Airbus said.
Meanwhile, the restructuring of the defence and space activities was progressing well, it said.
At brokers Aurel BGC, analysts said that "Airbus has beaten analysts' consensus forecast and stands by its objectives."
Another analyst in Paris who declined to be named, said: "Everything went well in this first half but it is clear that we have now had several sets of six-month results when the value of orders taken has been very strong.
But the future was less certain. "The high point of the cycle is behind us," he said.
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