Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rockwell Collins Sees Business-Jet Upturn

The Wall Street Journal

Business-jet manufacturers have begun increasing production, signaling the start of a turnaround after a prolonged downturn, the top executive of aviation-electronics maker Rockwell Collins Inc. said.   "We see a positive direction for the first time in three years," Rockwell's chairman and chief executive, Clay Jones, said on a conference call on Thursday.

Rockwell, which sells cockpit-electronics and other communications systems to Bombardier Inc., Hawker Beechcraft Corp. and other business-jet manufacturers, reported a 14% decline in fiscal first-quarter earnings on Thursday but posted results that beat Wall Street forecasts.  Mr. Jones said business-jet makers recently informed the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, company they are raising production levels this year. He predicted the sector could increase sales in 2012 by percentages "in the low double digits" over last year on "generally improving economic conditions around the world."

"It's not a land rush, but after three years of misery, any improvement is encouraging, and we're seeing that improvement generally across the board," Mr. Jones said in an interview. He cautioned that much of the increased activity likely will be felt in the second half of the calendar year.  Among the encouraging signs: production rates for midsize and light business jets are starting to improve, Mr. Jones said. Sales of smaller business jets have been hit especially hard during the slump, while larger, longer-range business jets have proved resilient. More... 

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