Bombardier stock is down 5.2 per cent at $4.18 on Thursday, on doubts about the timeline for the C Series jet and doubling of its use of free cash.

In first quarter results released this morning, the Montreal-based company said earnings dropped 22 per cent to $115 million or six cents a share, down from $148 million or eight cents a year earlier.

Revenues for the train and plane manufacturer were ahead slightly at $4.4 billion, compared with $4.3 billion year-over-year.

Net income excluding one-time items amounted to $151 million or eight cents per share, which met analyst’s expectations.

However they expressed concern about revenue, which was expected to hit $4.58 billion this quarter, and about the company’s use of cash. The company used $915 million of free cash in the quarter, up from $590 million a year ago.

"Overall, we view these results negatively, mainly due to the significant and unexpected free cash flow usage in the quarter," Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets wrote in a report.

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A mechanic works on a Bombardier aircraft in Montreal. Bombardier's earnings fell 22 per cent in the first quarter, but it says it will meet its annual earnings target. (Ross Marowits/Canadian Press)

Joseph Nadol of J.P. Morgan said the cash outflow was the most troubling part of the results even though the amount invested in aerospace decreased to $484 million from nearly $600 million.

Nadol expects Bombardier’s investments on new aircraft programs to drop further, he said.

Cut jobs and froze salaries

Bombardier stock hit a high point of $5.43 last October, but slid through the remainder of the year and was trading below $4 in February on disappointing earnings.

In the second quarter, Bombardier faces uncertainty over its ties to a Russian aircraft maker.

The company has already eliminated more than 1400 jobs and recently announced it's freezing the salaries of its 38,000 non-unionized employees as it deals with costly delays in the launch of its CSeries commercial jet.

Bombardier said the delayed CSeries aircraft program continues to make "solid progress" with three test vehicles performing well and fourth aircraft to have its test flight in the coming weeks.

 The composite Learjet 85 business jet's maiden flight took place during the quarter. Bombardier Aerospace received a total of 17 firm orders for Q400 NextGen turboprops, another for 16 CS300 aircraft, with options for an additional 10 and orders and agreements for a  total of 447 CSeries aircraft.

Bombardier touts this building backlog of orders as a great sign for future revenues and earnings.

It had a total of 91 aircraft orders in the quarter, up from 28 a year ago and delivered 56 planes, three more than last year.

"Our continued investment in a leading portfolio of products is paying off, as demonstrated by our record backlog of $76.9 billion (including the railway division) which sets the stage for strong revenue growth over a five-year horizon." president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin said in a statement.

Bombardier is on track to meet its 2014 guidance for earnings, he said.  

With files from Canadian Press