GKN plc has reported another period of growth for the global engineering group in the six months ended June 30, 2017. Sales were up 15% across the group to £5,212 million, with profit before tax reported to be up 14% to £393 million (on management basis) for the first half 2017.
“We made progress in the first half and are on track for the full year. We are performing well against our key markets, demonstrating once again the strength of our businesses, strong market positions and leading technology,” stated Nigel Stein, Chief Executive of GKN. “Our focus on innovation in key areas such as electrified drivetrains, Additive Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 is paying dividends and underpins our confidence in the longer term.”
Reporting on the outlook for the group, GKN stated that, according to Teal forecasts, in 2017 the overall aerospace market is expected to be up 1%, with commercial deliveries 1% lower and military sales up 8%. Against that backdrop, GKN Aerospace’s 2017 organic sales are expected to grow slightly above the market.
In automotive, external forecasts predict annual growth in global light vehicle production of around 2% with increases in China and Europe, but decreases in North America. Against this background, GKN Driveline and GKN Powder Metallurgy are expected to grow organically above the market.
“2017 is expected to be another year of growth. Our reputation for technological leadership in our key markets, our focus on driving flexibility and productivity through our manufacturing plants and our market leading position in all three divisions mean we are well placed for the future,” added Stein.
GKN Powder Metallurgy sales at over £600 million in first half 2017
GKN Powder Metallurgy comprises GKN Sinter Metals and Hoeganaes. Sales in the first half 2017 for GKN Powder Metallurgy reached £601 million (2016: £499 million) and trading profit was reported to be £68 million in the period, up from £63 million in 2016. Organic sales were £23 million higher, including £17 million pass through to customers of higher scrap steel prices and other commodities.
There was a £62 million benefit from currency translation and a £17 million increase from acquisitions, mostly the purchase of a majority share of a powder manufacturer in China. Strong underlying sales growth was achieved in China, Europe and Brazil but sales in North America fell due to weaker automotive demand.
The organic increase in trading profit was £5 million and there was a £8 million gain on currency translation. The divisional trading margin was 11.3% (2016: 12.6%). The European business, principally focused on small parts, grew well increasing its sales into the automotive market. Good progress continued in Asia with double digit sales growth.
GKN stated that digitisation across the shop floor is assisting with productivity gains across GKN Powder Metallurgy. During this period, commercial titanium powder production for AM started in Cinnaminson, USA, as part of the venture with TLS Technik. Interest in powder was said to be strong and a number of production orders have been received from key customers for both standard and customised titanium AM powder alloys. There is also increased demand for AM parts for use in the automotive and industrial sectors.
During the period, around £110 million of annualised sales in new and replacement business was secured and a number of important milestones achieved by GKN Powder Metallurgy, including:
- Completing acquisition of Turkish powder metal parts manufacturer Tozmetal Ticaret Ve Sanayi AS (Tozmetal), adding pump part capacity
- Making further steps towards Industry 4.0 with a new dedicated digital area for metal AM which will reduce lead times in prototype development and production;
- Launching a new e-commerce platform, InstAMetal, a revolutionary digitized quoting and design experience for metal AM that will bring speed and simplicity of online ordering to engineering prototypes;
- Receiving the Best Supplier Award for quality performance from Somfy for the high-class planetary gears and components that it supplies for electrical shutter motors;
- Receiving two prestigious Grand Prize Design Excellence Awards from the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF) in the Automotive Transmission category (planetary carrier assembly for Ford Motor Company) and the Automotive Chassis category (copper-steel output pulley for Nidec Automotive Motor Americas).