Black Country-based engineering group Hampson Industries is continuing to enjoy strong demand in its core markets due to the buoyant climate in the aerospace sector.
The company, which has its headquarters in Brierley Hill, yesterday reported a 74 per cent rise in interim pre-tax profits before exceptionals and amortisation to £7.1 million.
Hampson said that despite currency fluctuations, the main impetus for the group's higher first half profits came from its aerospace components and structures and composites and transparencies businesses where respective profit increases were 93 per cent and 68 per cent.
Chief executive Kim Ward said he was delighted with the performance and said there was every reason to believe it would continue.
He said that the change in aerospace demographics since 9/11 had enabled the company to capitalise on the emerging markets in the Middle East while it remained well placed to benefit from the refurbishment orders currently being proposed by US and European airlines.
"There are currently about 6,000 aircraft on order globally and the industry is struggling to supply 900 a year. This gives us every reason to be optimistic for the future," he said.
In September the group won an exclusive life-of-programme contract with Honda Aircraft Company for the manufacture and supply of the complete empennage structural subassembly for the new HondaJet advanced light jet, expected to be worth around £35 million. First production deliveries are expected to begin in 2010. Hampson, which has a manufacturing operation in Birmingham, is also an important contractor in the Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet programme - an aircraft which has already won nearly 3,000 orders.
The company supplies stabilisers, rudders and other equipment for the Eclipse 500, which is made by the Eclipse Aviation Corporation.
Hampson has invested in plants in Wigan and Texas with the intention of being able to produce parts for 60 aircraft a month by March. But Mr Ward said the company remained in dispute with the US light jet maker over compensation for its lower-than-expected deliveries to customers. Eclipse had planned to deliver 50 of the jets a month by next February, but is currently only managing 20 a month.
Although the aerospace components and structures business includes the Eclipse contract, it still managed to double its trading profit to £6.4 million from £3.3 million a year ago on a 16 per cent rise in revenues to £42.8 million.
Composites and transparencies saw trading profit grow to £4.7 million on a £5.6 million rise in revenues to £23.2 million.
The company has also declined to rule out an eventual sale of its automotive division, which makes vehicle turbochargers and represents about 15 per cent of the group's business. Mr Ward said the group could dispose of the loss-making unit for about £25 million which would free up money to invest in its more lucrative aerospace operations. However, he said there were no plans to sell it for at least a year.
"As long as it's earning money and paying cash, we're happy to keep it," he said.
Group revenues in the six months to September 30 rose 20 per cent to £76.3 million, and in his final statement as chairman before stepping down, Tony Gilroy said: "Against this background, the strong first-half results provide a firm foundation on which to build, and the board therefore looks forward with continued confidence to another full-year performance showing very positive progress."