Aerostructures and cabling specialist Latécoère has jumped 11 places to number 60 in the rankings, after a year in which it achieved the highest rate of growth of any Top 100 company, boosting its aerospace revenues 49.3%.

Organic sales growth of 16.8% was bolstered by accelerated payments for research and development work undertaken for Airbus's A380 programme, to which Latécoère provides the lower nose section. Extraordinary items contributed €104.4 million, despite expenses arising from an abortive attempt to acquire former Airbus sites at Méaulte and Saint Nazaire Ville. Both were picked by EADS subsidiary Aérolia, another member of France's aerostructures elite, which is completed by Daher.

At year-end, Latécoère's firm order backlog stood at €2 billion, up 10% from the end of 2007, and it made a positive start to 2009 when, in January, it landed contracts to design and manufacture electrical furnishings and tooling for the Airbus A350 XWB. Subsequently, Aérolia awarded Latécoère an A350 XWB contract covering nose fairings.

As Latécoère's largest customer, Airbus contributed 46% of 2008 revenues, ahead of Embraer on 29% and Dassault on 16%. Boeing did not contribute to last year's sales, but makes up 30% of backlog, as Latécoère is to provide passenger doors to the 787 programme.

Meanwhile, A350 XWB work will be divided among Latécoère's three divisions: aerostructures, which contributed 65% of 2008's revenues; on-board wiring and systems (29%); and engineering and systems (6%). The company aims to increase the proportional contributions of the wiring and engineering divisions to 50%, as their activities are less capital intensive than Latécoère's aerostructures business, which is focused on fuselage sections (60%) and doors (40%).

For now, however, there are choppy waters to navigate. Latécoère is predicting a 20% revenue drop for 2009, reflecting its exposure to the downturns in regional and business aviation - via its customers Dassault and Embraer. It is also affect by delays to both the 787 and the A400M military transport programme, to which it provides an avionics bay.

Against this backdrop, Latécoère has secured works council approval for "relocation of the group's aerostructures production sites in the Toulouse region", as a measure aimed at "restoring its profitability and financial stability".

At a glance

  • Top 100 rank 60
  • HQ Toulouse, France
  • Aero revenues $999m
  • Sales growth 39.6%
  • Operating margin 4.7%
  • ROCE 5.0%
  • Employees 3,800
  • CEO François Bertrand


Source: Flight International