French aerostructures manufacturer Latecoère expects to grow its turnover by 20% this year as its involvement in the Airbus A380 and Dassault Falcon 7X programmes boosts earnings.

Turnover increased by 33% last year compared with 2003, to €260 million ($340 million), mainly on the back of a strong increase in revenues from Brazil, where the company set up a subsidiary to supply Embraer.

Latecoère chief executive Francois Bertrand says 2005 "will be a year of strong acceleration in deliveries will underline the strong recovery". Growth is expected to continue in 2006. Latecoère had an orderbook worth €1.05 billion at the end of December. Airbus and Boeing account for 62% of its orders, and regional aircraft producers Bombardier and Embraer 25%, while Dassault provides 10% of its firm orders.

Latecoère invested €91 million in research and development, or 35% of turnover in 2004, compared with 36% in 2003, because of its involvement in the A380, 7X and Boeing 787 programmes. Bertrand says the proportion is likely to decline again in 2005 as these programmes transition to the production phase. But net debt, which increased from €144 million in 2003 to €200 million last year, is likely to rise again as the company finances new programmes, which should generate growth in years to come.

Bertrand says he hopes Latecoère will have a better idea of its involvement in the Airbus A350 programme in the second half of 2005, adding that the company has a "lack of visibility" on the programme.

Latecoère is in discussions to acquire a second factory in Tunisia. But following recent acquisitions the company says it now also wants to focus on organic growth, with a presence in commercial aircraft, business aviation, regional jets and military aircraft its objective.


Source: Flight International