Belfast Telegraph

Caterpillar and Bombardier reveal positive outlook after restructuring

By Margaret Canning

Two of Northern Ireland's foreign-owned manufacturers have reported better-than-expected profits after unveiling major cuts to their operations.

Economist John Simpson said the fall in value of sterling over the last year could be making the Northern Ireland and other UK operations of Bombardier and Caterpillar more competitive.

A resurgence in Chinese construction markets helped US-owned Caterpillar increase quarterly sales by $1bn (£0.8bn).

The Chicago-based generator manufacturer employs around 1,500 people at the former FG Wilson in Larne. Revenue in the second quarter grew from $10.3bn (£7.8bn) to $11.3bn (£8.6bn).

And Canadian transportation giant Bombardier, which employs around 4,500 people in aerospace operations in NI, reported consolidated revenues of $4.1bn (£3bn) in the quarter and $7.7bn (£5.8bn) for the first half, compared to $4.3bn (£3.3bn) and $8.2bn (£6.2bn) over the same period the year before.

It has been implementing a five-year turnaround plan. Around 1,000 jobs have gone in its Belfast operations.

Alain Bellemare, president and chief executive officer at Bombardier Inc, said: "We continue to make solid progress executing our five-year turnaround plan.

"We are improving our operating margins, transforming our operations and executing on our growth programmes, which will allow us to deliver long-term sustainable value to our customers and shareholders.

"With our strong performance over the first half of the year, we are well positioned to achieve our full-year guidance and expect EBIT before special items at high end of our range, between $580m (£440m) and $630m (£478m)."

Meanwhile, Caterpillar chief executive Jim Umpleby said it enjoyed "an impressive quarter".

"As demand increased, we continued to control costs and generated higher profit margins," he said. "While a number of our end markets remain challenged, construction in China and gas compression in North America were highlights in the quarter.

"Mining and oil-related activities have come off of recent lows and we are seeing improved demand for construction in most."

It updated its full-year outlook from $39.5bn (£29.9bn) to $43bn (£33bn).

Last year the company announced major job cuts globally, with around 250 jobs going in Northern Ireland. It shut down its operation at Monkstown.

John Simpson said Caterpillar and Bombardier's operations here were enjoying an advantage from the fall in the value of sterling, which would make their products more competitive.

"At the moment, too, the other good news is that they have not announced any more redundancies," he added.

Belfast Telegraph