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13 Oct 17. GKN warns on profits after ‘probable’ cost claims. FTSE 100 engineer also blames US challenges for expected £40m cut to earnings. GKN was forced on Friday to issue a profit warning after receiving two “probable” claims from customers for extra costs that are expected to cut £40m from this year’s earnings. The aerospace and automotive supplier will also suffer a “significant” non-cash charge as it struggles to achieve productivity improvements in its North American plant that supplies Airbus, the commercial aircraft maker, as well as military customers. Nigel Stein, the outgoing chief executive, said he felt as if he had been “walking down the street and been mugged” after receiving two separate claims this week on the same day. Shares in the FTSE 100 group fell 8.28 per cent to 323.6p by late morning in London. In a call with analysts the company, which provides parts and systems to more than 50 per cent of the world’s passenger cars as well as structural components to passenger and military jets, refused to give many details about the claims. GKN was bound by confidentiality agreements, said Mr Stein. The only detail available was that one was directed at the aerospace division and the other at its automotive unit. Analysts expressed disappointment, coming barely a month after GKN had reported better than expected trading in its automotive division in first-half results. GKN said that it still expected profits this year to be “slightly above 2016” but Andrew Gollan of Berenberg investment bank estimated profit forecasts would be trimmed by about 5 per cent for 2017. “This is a disappointing update and indicates poor execution,” Mr Gollan said. In the call with analysts, Mr Stein described the challenges in North America, where GKN flagged pricing pressure, continuing operational challenges and the impact of programme transitions. Trading in the third quarter was “disappointing”, with pricing pressures causing a “significant reduction” in profit margins. Mr Stein also laid out the problems in the company’s Alabama plant, employing about 800 people. Its performance had “not been great and the improvements expected nine month ago have not been realised”, he said. The group was taking a £15m non-cash charge for the plant, relating to revised assumptions on programme inventory and receivables balances. The company had also reviewed the carrying value of plants acquired several years ago through acquisitions. This was expected to result in a significant writedown of goodwill and other assets, which would be disclosed at the annual results. But Mr Stein stressed that these factories had returned their acquisition costs “many times over”. Analysts are expecting total non-cash charges relating to the North American aerospace business of more than £100m. Mr Stein added that he thought it would take about two years to restore margins in the North American aerospace business to average levels. In contrast, its auto parts business enjoyed a better quarter, with third-quarter sales “well ahead of global industry production rates”. (Source: FT.com)
13 Oct 17. Lord neutral on recent merger and acquisition activity. The Pentagon’s top acquisition official is remaining neutral following a trio of major defense merger and acquisition announcements.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at the 2017 AUSA Conference that her office is reviewing the proposed changes but indicated she had not made up her mind on whether to support or oppose the M&A activity.
“We’re working on those. We’ve gotten a lot of good inputs and we’re looking at” the facts, said Lord, who served as CEO of Textron Systems prior to her nomination