23 Apr 08. Saab posted first-quarter pre-tax earnings below expectations on Wednesday, hit by higher marketing costs, but stood by its full-year outlook for sales and margins. The group reported a pretax profit of 324m Swedish crowns ($54.79m) compared with 380m a year earlier and a mean forecast of 417m in a Reuters survey of five analysts. The Sweden-based firm repeated its full-year 2008 forecast of organic sales growth of 5 percent and an operating margin of 10 percent, excluding extraordinary items. The group, which has sought to boost its overseas revenues in recent years in the face of shrinking defence spending in its home market, said marketing costs were to blame for the earnings shortfall.
“The lower operating income is mainly due to higher marketing expenses largely related to tenders for Gripen to a number of countries,” it said in a statement. Saab’s Gripen fighter jet is competing for orders across the world, ranging from Nordic neighbour Norway to several countries in Asia. It recently concluded a deal to sell the fighter to Thailand. The company said group order bookings rose to 7.75bn crowns in the quarter from 5.39bn a year ago to put the order backlog at 49.6bn crowns. (Source: Thomson Reuters)
23 Apr 08. BAE Systems, Britain’s largest defence contractor, is looking to break into the civil nuclear market. The company is keen to become involved in building nuclear power reactors and has held talks with “at least one” of the four companies that have submitted proposals to the government to provide designs for new reactors. The companies are Westinghouse, now owned by Toshiba; General Electric with Hitachi; France’s Areva; and AECL, the Canadian state-owned group. The prospect of a nuclear renaissance in Britain has generated huge interest among companies involved in the industry. British Energy, the nuclear operator and owner of most principal sites for new reactors, is being courted by several suitors. Murray Easton, head of BAE Submarine Solutions, said the company saw the civil nuclear programme not just as a business opportunity, but also as a means to protect its core capability in building nuclear submarines.
The company’s expertise would also be attractive to potential partners.
“We are the only company in Britain that is involved in design, assembly and commissioning of a nuclear reactor,” Mr Easton said. “It’s a no-brainer…?We would be a contractor and…a key player.” (Source: FT.com)
22 Apr 08. Weir Group PLC announced the sale of Strachan & Henshaw (S&H) to Babcock International Group PLC (Babcock). Babcock is a major support services group with a market capitalisation of £1.3bn and 17,000 people. Its core markets include naval defence and nuclear; other businesses in Babcock International Group include Devonport Management Ltd, Alstec and INS. An introduction to Babcock International Group is attached. S&H provides high integrity engineered systems principally for naval defence and nuclear markets, and provides design consultancy and support services for its products. S&H is therefore an excellent strategic fit within Babcock, and stands to benefit strongly from Babcock’s presence and focus in those markets. 2007 saw another year of growth for S&H with significant new product and service support contracts and a record order book; we expect further growth within Babcock.
15 Apr 08. Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD & LSE: ADC) announced that it began listing on the International OTCQX under the symbol AZDDF. “With our recent headquarters move to the United States and our growing U.S. customer base, we believe it is important to be represented on a US-based trading platform where American investors can readily access us,” said Azure Dynamics Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Harrison. “We are experiencing significant growth of new customers, particularly in the U.S., and have commenced production of our hybrid electric delivery vans and shuttle buses. Listing