GKN profits take off on back of plane sales

A record number of new planes in production boosted profits at the engineer GKN during the first half of the year.

The company soared to the top of the FTSE 100 yesterday after beating City forecasts with a 5 per cent jump in pre-tax profits to £278m.

The group's aerospace business, which was bolstered by a £633m deal for Volvo's aero-engine division last year, delivered a 37 per cent rise in profit.

The unit prospered from demand for components as Boeing and Airbus raised output to record levels, with more than 1,200 airliners expected to be delivered this year.

"GKN has continued to make good progress against our strategy to grow a market-leading global engineering business," its chief executive, Nigel Stein, said. "Although some of our end markets remained challenging, we continued to outperform and are reporting good underlying financial results."

GKN refused to comment on rumours linking it with a bid for all or part of the US group Spirit Aerosystems.

The company increased its interim dividend by 8 per cent to 2.6p and said first-half revenues grew 12 per cent to £3.87bn. The shares rose more than 5 per cent to 345p.

"Overall, with a stronger second-half profit performance anticipated, we expect 2013 to be a year of good progress for the group, helped by the contribution from GKN Aerospace Engine Systems," Mr Stein added.

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