In-flight refuelling system specialist Cobham said last week it had amassed a war chest of several hundred million pounds to spend on acquisitions.
The company, which spans aerospace manufacturing and avionics, printed circuit boards and medical devices, said it was also considering making a bid for part of the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Evaluation Research Agency, if plans to privatise it are given the go-ahead in April.
Chief executive Gordon Page said he expected Cobham to continue growing past 2001, when many industry analysts expect aerospace demand to start declining.
Cobham makes aircraft fuel systems and antennae for Airbus aircraft. Each of the consortium’s planes takes about £100,000 worth of Cobham products.
The systems are also to be used on the next two Airbus variants, the A340-stretch, and the 100-seater A318.
Page said: ‘We are in all the right niches at just the right time. New products will mitigate any downturn in the narrow-bodied aircraft market. I am not at all pessimistic about prospects.’
He was speaking after unveiling a 21% rise in pre-tax profits to £63.6m on the back of a 19% rise in turnover to £384.1m.
The group has record orders of £735m, up from £671m a year ago.
The results were broadly in line with forecasts, but the City was cheered by news that Cobham subsidiary Westwind, which supplies the printed circuit board and semi-conductor industries, was no worse than expected after a massive downturn in its key markets.