OHB Revenue Down as Fresh Galileo Satellite Order Weighed

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PARIS — Satellite and rocket-component builder OHB SE of Germany on May 13 reported a sharp drop in revenue for the three months ending March 31 but said it remains on track to meet its full-year revenue goal.

Bremen-based OHB, which is prime contractor for 22 European Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites — four of which have been launched — said total revenue dropped by 15.3 percent, to 153.3 million euros ($166 million) after accounting for the effect of the sale of its majority-owned ATP division, which focuses on aeronautical and medical industry components.

Revenue from the company’s principal division, Space Systems, was down 22 percent compared to the same period a year ago, to 118.3 million euros. The company attributed the decline to contract milestone dates that have always made quarter-to-quarter comparisons hazardous. The pretax profit margin for this division was 4.8 percent, off only marginally from the 4.9 percent of a year ago.

In a report to shareholders, OHB management said it remained “upbeat for the year” and that its goal of surpassing 800 million euros in revenue and 40 million in pretax profit remained intact. The revenue line would mean an increase of at least 3.5 percent from 2014.

Backlog at March 31 stood at 2.05 billion euros, down 9 percent from a year ago as OHB has begun delivery of the Galileo satellites.

The executive commission of the 28-nation European Union, which owns Galileo, is expected to decide later this year on a fresh order of Galileo satellites. It is not clear whether these will be mainly recurrent models of the satellites OHB is building, or will more resemble a second-generation Galileo system.

OHB would have the inside track on a recurrent-model bid against likely competitors Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space. A European Commission decision to begin work on an evolved constellation likely would take more time and could threaten the commission’s goal of having the full constellation in orbit and operational by 2020.

OHB is also prime contractor for the German government’s EnMap hyperspectral imaging satellite, which is years late and has been the subject of tension between OHB and its customer, Germany’s DLR aerospace center. OHB said flight-hardware assembly is “continuing to progress well” and that the satellite is on track for a 2018 launch.

With financial assistance from the European Space Agency, OHB is developing its own geostationary-orbit satellite product line, called SmallGeo, whose first customer is Hispasat of Spain. The mixed Ku- and Ka-band satellite is scheduled for launch late this year.

OHB is prime contractor for the EDRS-C geostationary orbiting satellite, being built for Airbus Defence and Space as part of Europe’s satellite laser data-relay service. EDRS-C also carries a commercial telecommunications payload for fleet operator Avanti Communications of London. It is scheduled for launch in 2017.