Sikorsky sets sights lower on M&A front

March 12, 2010

The Sikorsky helicopter unit of diversified U.S. manufacturer United Technologies Corp is on the hunt for acquisitions of smaller companies that maintain aircraft – a business that can offer a higher profit margin than selling them, a top executive said on Friday.

“In the aerospace services area, I think there’s a huge MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) market out there that could be consolidated,” Jeff Pino, Sikorsky’s president told investors in New York, where United Tech was providing an update on its 2010 outlook.

While his words caught analysts’ attention, they suggested a smaller-scale approach to takeovers than the company had in mind last year, when it entertained questions about trying to buy the Bell helicopter unit of rival Textron Inc, which was coping with a plummeting stock price in the face of a market rout.

That deal never occurred – and Providence, Rhode Island-based Textron has seen its shares surge about fourfold over the past year, easing pressure.

Investors did not specifically ask Pino about the Bell question, and he gave no sign of thinking about the one that got away.

“It’s clear that large scale consolidation is just not happening,” Pino said.

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