Aerospace orders lift Smiths’ profits

Smiths Industries, the diversified engineering group, has benefited from the upturn in the aerospace industry. Last week it reported operating profits up 15% in the last half year. Profits rose to £81.4m, mainly on the back of a 33% increase to £22.9m in its aerospace arm, the smallest in the group after industrial and medical […]

Smiths Industries, the diversified engineering group, has benefited from the upturn in the aerospace industry.

Last week it reported operating profits up 15% in the last half year.

Profits rose to £81.4m, mainly on the back of a 33% increase to £22.9m in its aerospace arm, the smallest in the group after industrial and medical systems.

Smiths benefited from more orders in the civil avionics business following Boeing’s increase in production, and cashflow from defence programmes now entering the production phase.

Notable programmes include F-18 jets for the US Navy for which Smiths manufactures a stores management system, and the Apache helicopter, which uses Smiths’ power management system.

A £20m contract from the Royal Australian Air Force to equip Next Generation Hawks with cockpit displays is expected to sustain the current performance when the equipment goes into production in April 1998.

Cashflow from the £17m purchase last January of US electrical power generator company Leland will be injected into the second half-year profits, as will a £15m investment in a new Aerospace civil systems factory at Cheltenham.

Smiths’ largest division, Medical Systems, showed a different picture with a stagnating £31.9m profit – an increase of less than 1%.

This was the result of a drop in public expenditure in the UK, and low spending in the rest of Europe as major economies attempted to meet the convergence criteria for entry into the single European currency.