““CEOs go to their vacation homes just after companies report favorable news, and CEOs return to headquarters right before subsequent news is released. More good news is released when CEOs are back at work, and CEOs appear not to leave headquarters at all if a firm has adverse news to disclose. When CEOs are away from the office, stock prices behave quietly with sharply lower volatility. Volatility increases immediately when CEOs return to work.” —David Yermack, a New York University finance professor, whose recently released study shows a correlation between when CEOs take their private jets on vacation and movements in their companies’ stock price ”
A Tale of Two Continents
It’s too early to predict overall sales for 2013, but one key indicator—the number of aircraft for sale—continues to tick lower, suggesting that a recovery is still ongoing. In fact, the number of available jets and turboprops is now at its lowest point in roughly five years.
It’s worth noting, however, that the North American and European markets today seem headed in opposite directions.
The Gulfstream G550 offers a case in point. Worldwide, it appears to be in tight supply with only 19 for sale—or fewer than 5 percent of the nearly 400 in operation. However, 70 percent of the available G550s are based in Europe, and they represent 15 percent of the G550s on that continent. By comparison, only 2 percent of North American-based G550s are for sale. (Full disclosure: one of these is listed with my company.) A similar disparity is evident with such models as the Dassault Falcon 7X and the Bombardier Global XRS. And when you look at all aircraft manufactured since 2002, you find that just 7 percent are for sale in the U.S., compared with 13.6 percent in Europe. The spread has narrowed a bit recently, but a clear imbalance remains. And it is not just the large-cabin segment that has experienced an inequality of distribution; it’s late-model small and midsize aircraft as well.
Why the difference? There could be a host of reasons but price is always a chief suspect. With the G550, also, it’s interesting to note that most recent sales have involved aircraft with an aft galley, which U.S. buyers seem to prefer. And all but one were enrolled in an engine-maintenance plan such as Rolls-Royce’s Corporate Care Program, or JSSI.
In the months ahead, the law of supply and demand could result in lower jet prices in Europe, which would likely boost sales there and bring inventory levels more in line with those in the U.S. I’m already seeing signs of that trend, with price drops listed for four European-based G550s in a recent weekly update from Aircraft Post.com.
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