Calm amid the stormDefense group Cobham announces robust 2008 results

Published 5 March 2009

Profits up 18 percent; total revenue for the whole group increased to £1.467 billion from £1.061 billion and trading profit was up by 27 percent to £252 million from £199 million

Defense and security companies continue to do well despite the economic slowdown. The latest is defense group Cobham, which has just announced robust preliminary results for 2008, with profits up by 18 percent on the back of its strong acquisition strategy.

Total revenue for the whole group increased to £1.467 billion from £1.061 billion and trading profit was up by 27 percent to £252 million from £199 million. The group’s order books were in a similar position, up from £1.8 billion to £2.7 billion, following significant growth from its technology divisions and Cobham Aviation Services.

Order intake was up by 40 percent to £1.664 billion, with the U.K. Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) program contributing to £150 million of that figure. Overall, Cobham’s core military and government markets performed particularly well and are forecast to remain strong in the light of $1.2 billion (£853 million) of acquisitions to go through in the coming year.

The group’s technology-based acquisitions have contributed significantly to its 2008 growth. Major acquisitions include a prototype mine detection system, the Tactical Wideband Interoperable Surface Terminal (TWISTER) system and transmit-and-receive modules for the Scaleable Panel for Efficient Affordable Radars (SPEARS) program.

The results were also driven by strong organic growth following global contracts from the U.K. Ministry of Defense, the Indian Army, the French Air Force, and the U.S. Air Force.

In 2009 the company hopes to unify its Cobham brand in order to promote cross selling and raise the group’s profile overseas. Allan Cook, Cobham’s chief executive, said:

I am delighted to report another set of strong results, with double-digit organic revenue and underlying earnings-per-share growth and excellent cash generation in a challenging economic environment. These results reflect our strategy of focusing on high-growth markets and our continuing commitment to invest in distinctive technologies that can be applied across a broad range of programs.

Our core military and government markets remain robust, despite the more challenging economic environment. We see exciting opportunities for organic growth and benefits from the $1.2 billion of acquisitions completed in the year. The long-term visibility provided by our £2.7 billion order book and the resilient nature of our core customer base gives the board confidence of achieving further progress in 2009.