A golden year

Defence group Cobham has announced robust preliminary results for 2008, with profits up by 18 per cent on the back of its strong acquisition strategy.

Total revenue for the whole group increased to £1.467bn from £1.061bn and trading profit was up by 27 per cent to £252m from £199m. The group’s order books were in a similar position, up from £1.8bn to £2.7bn, following significant growth from its technology divisions and Cobham Aviation Services.

Order intake was up by 40 per cent to £1.664bn, with the UK Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme contributing to £150m of that figure. Overall, Cobham’s core military and government markets performed particularly well and are forecast to remain strong in the light of $1.2bn (£853m) of acquisitions to go through in the coming year.

The group’s technology-based acquisitions have contributed significantly to its 2008 growth. Major acquisitions include a prototype mine detection system, the Tactical Wideband Interoperable Surface Terminal (TWISTER) system and transmit-and-receive modules for the Scaleable Panel for Efficient Affordable Radars (SPEARS) programme.

The results were also driven by strong organic growth following global contracts from the Ministry of Defence, the Indian Army, the French Air Force and the US Air Force.

In 2009, the company hopes to unify its Cobham brand in order to promote cross selling and raise the group’s profile overseas.

Allan Cook, Cobham’s chief executive, said: ‘I am delighted to report another set of strong results, with double-digit organic revenue and underlying earnings-per-share growth and excellent cash generation in a challenging economic environment. These results reflect our strategy of focusing on high-growth markets and our continuing commitment to invest in distinctive technologies that can be applied across a broad range of programmes.

‘Our core military and government markets remain robust, despite the more challenging economic environment. We see exciting opportunities for organic growth and benefits from the $1.2bn of acquisitions completed in the year. The long-term visibility provided by our £2.7bn order book and the resilient nature of our core customer base gives the board confidence of achieving further progress in 2009,’ he added.