PARIS — Europe’s EADS aerospace giant on May 16 said its Astrium space division reported a double-digit increase in revenue and pretax profit for the first three months of 2012 driven by the late-2011 acquisition of mobile satellite services provider Vizada.
The Astrium Services business, which had been Astrium’s fastest-growing and most-profitable division until a downturn in 2011, reported that its revenue for the three months ending March 31 doubled from a year ago, to 371 million euros ($482 million), mainly because of the Vizada addition starting last December.
Astrium is composed of three operating segments: Services, Space Transportation and Satellites.
The Services business manages the sale of satellite bandwidth to military and other government customers through its fully owned Paradigm Secure Communications subsidiary. It also sells radar and optical satellite Earth observation imagery through Astrium Geo-Information Services.
Astrium Space Transportation is prime contractor for Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket and the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo ships that deliver supplies to the international space station. The third ATV vehicle was launched earlier this year and performed an automatic docking with the space station. The Space Transportation business also includes the design and manufacture of France’s ballistic missiles.
For the first three months of 2012, the Space Transportation division reported revenue of 609.5 million euros, up 2 percent from a year ago.
Astrium Satellites is a major satellite builder whose product line includes commercial, civil government and military spacecraft for telecommunications, Earth observation and other missions. For the first three months of 2012, the Satellites business reported 344.5 million euros in revenue, down 11.7 percent from a year ago.
Satellite manufacturing revenue often shows substantial swings from one quarter to another depending on the timing of customer payments for satellites under construction.
In a conference call with investors, EADS Chief Financial Officer Hans Peter Ring did not mention any specific reason for the drop in Astrium Satellites revenue.
The 673 million euro Vizada acquisition, meanwhile, added 700 employees to Astrium Services’ work force, which now stands at about 3,700, and also added annual revenue that in 2011 was expected to be about $660 million.
Ring said this accounts for much of Astrium’s improved financial performance. In addition to revenue increasing by 13 percent, to 1.33 billion euros, pretax profit increased by 25 percent, to 65 million euros.
Ring said Astrium’s profit picture is improving because of a reorganization program, called Agile, which is designed to reduce costs and streamline overall Astrium operations.
Astrium’s total backlog at March 31 stood at 14.5 billion euros, down about 5 percent from a year ago.