Category: Aerospace

Ball Corp. profits slide in third quarter

BROOMFIELD — Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL) on Thursday reported profit of $44.5 million, or 32 cents per share, on revenue of $2.1 billion for its third-quarter that ended Sept. 30, a sharp decline in profit compared with the same period a year ago and for the first nine months of the year.

The Broomfield-based can manufacturer’s profit for the same period a year ago was $147.4 million, or $1.04, per share, on sales of$2.2 billion.

Profit for the first nine months of the year was $225.6 million, or $1.60 per share, on sales of $6.2 billion, compared with $394 million, or $2.76 per share, on revenue of $6.5 billion in the first nine months of 2014.

“Results from operations and global metal packaging volumes were in line with our expectations for the quarter, John Hayes, Ball’s chairman, president and chief executive, said in a prepared statement. “Foreign currency translation headwinds and project startup costs both continued.”

He said the company continues to work on its proposed offer to acquire London-based competitor Rexam PLC. It also is working on an agreement with its Brazilian joint venture partners for an exchange of Ball shares for the partners’ remaining interest in the joint venture.

Aerospace and Technologies

Ball Corp.’s Boulder-based subsidiary, Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., reported a profit of $21.4 million on sales of $203.4 million, compared with $21.2 million on sales of $221.7 million in the third quarter 2014. During the quarter, Ball Aerospace integrated the propulsion subsystem for NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission onto the spacecraft bus and began system performance and environmental testing. The mission is scheduled to launch in 2016.

Anark Corp. lands $1.1M U.S. Air Force contract

BOULDER —Anark Corp. in Boulder has received a $1.1 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide a software system that generates reports on parts to streamline wing conversion and maintenance operations for the A-10 Thunderbolt.

The fighter jet is used for close air support of ground forces in combat situations, including attacking tanks, armored vehicles and other ground targets.

The A-10 was designed in the 1970s with that era’s drafting and manufacturing techniques. To extend the life of the A-10, a program was established to modify the existing aircraft with new wings.
In order to reduce costs, increase quality and improve manufacturing techniques, the Air Force will use the Boulder company’s Anark Core software program. The program compiles engineering design data and manufacturing information and creates drawing-like documents that use 3-D modeling. The documents are easier to interpret than the 2-D drawings that were used to design and build the first fleet of A-10s.

Sierra Nevada Corp. launches landing site program for Dream Chaser

LOUISVILLE — Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems division based in Louisville announced on Thursday that the company is launching a new program to establish preferred landing sites for its Dream Chaser spacecraft, a program that could include commercial airports.

SNC has long touted the ability of Dream Chaser to land on regular commercial runways.

Company officials, in a press release, said the program is based on similar work already being done with Ellington Spaceport in Houston and the Huntsville (Ala.) International Airport Authority. The program includes three different levels of designation, with the highest resulting inSNC receiving a re-entry license from the FAA for a particular spaceport or airport.

“Dream Chaser is poised to lead the commercial space industry in reusable, low-Earth orbital flight,” SNC Space Systems head Mark Sirangelo said in a press release. “The benefits of multiple landing sites would be significant to both the landing site community and to the Dream Chaser network of domestic and international partners.”

SNC is awaiting a decision from NASA expected to come in November on a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply cargo to the International Space Station.

Four area clean-energy companies to present at NREL investor forum

Four clean-tech companies based in the region are among 30 from across the nation that will present their business cases to investors and industry experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s annual Industry Growth Forum in Denver in November.

The forum will take place Nov. 3 and 4 at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton St., with registration available both online and onsite.

Participating companies were selected through an application process and will compete for the 2015 NREL Clean Energy Venture Awards. Through the 20 years of the forum, presenting companies have gone on to raise more than $5 billion in investment, according to a release from NREL.

Companies from the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado that will present this year include:

Frontline Aerospace Inc., Broomfield. Focused on commercial gas turbine efficiency products for applications on ground-based turbines, with secondary expansion into airborne applications.

Homer Energy, Boulder. Provides software and services to rapidly identify and assess least-cost solutions for the distributed generation and microgrid markets.

Lightning Hybrids, Loveland. Sells and licenses a patented hardware/software system that converts medium and heavy-duty trucks into hydraulic hybrids.

Sibelloptics, Boulder. Developing a compact, long-range commercial wind Lidar instrument for wind resource management.

Woodward opens new plants in northern Illinois

Woodward Inc. has opened its second large manufacturing plant in northern Illinois in slightly more than a month.

The Fort Collins-based aviation systems and aerospace technology company (Nasdaq: WWD) held a ribbon cutting, Aug. 20, for a 334,700-square-foot facility in Niles, Ill., in Chicago’s near northwest suburbs and just east of O’Hare International Airport. That opening follows a July 1 ribbon cutting for a 450,000-square-foot building about 80 miles to the west in Loves Park, Ill., the suburb of Rockford where Amos Woodward founded the company, then known as The Woodward Governor Co., in 1870.

The Niles plant consolidates Woodward operations – and about 950 employees – in one building, where electromechanical flight-control and utility-actuation systems, fly-by-wire cockpit-control systems, sensors, electric motors and components are built.

Woodward had purchased Niles-based MPC Products Corp. in 2009 from the Roberti family, which retained ownership of five buildings on the site and leased them to Woodward. Its work had been spread out between those buildings, often inefficiently, so Woodward was prompted to find a way to put everything under one roof. The Robertis “sold those buildings in November knowing we were going to consolidate,” said Woodward spokeswoman Jeanne Lasley.

The new Woodward-owned building has manufacturing space in the back and 100,000 square feet of newly constructed office and support space in front.

“It was built as an open work environment with collaborative workspaces on the manufacturing floor as well as the offices — the same way they’re building the new Fort Collins campus” on the former site of the Link-N-Greens Golf Course at Lincoln Street and Lemay Avenue, Lasley said. The headquarters building on that site is scheduled to be open by December, she said, with the industrial turbo-machinery systems building to follow by February. Woodward is moving from its longtime headquarters campus at 1000 E. Drake Road.

At the new plant in Loves Park, Woodward focuses on aircraft turbine systems.

PlanetiQ to hire ‘one or two dozen’ at new Boulder office

BOULDER — Officials for Bethesda, Md.-based startup PlanetiQ — which earlier this year inked a collaboration deal with Boulder-based Blue Canyon Technologies to build a constellation of 12 weather satellites — announced Monday that the firm has opened a permanent office in Boulder, where it plans to make “one or two dozen” new hires over the next several months.

PlanetiQ has had 12 employees in Boulder since January collaborating with Blue Canyon on the constellation. Those employees had until now been co-located with Blue Canyon at 2425 55th St. But PlanetiQ recently leased 5,500 square feet of its own space in the same building where its scientists and engineers will develop and build the flight instruments for the satellites.

PlanetiQ spokesman Dan Stillman said Monday that most of the new hires would also be scientists and engineers.

Founded in 2012, PlanetiQ had Colorado ties even before its work with BCT. Chairman Chris McCormick founded Golden-based Broad Reach Engineering, which was acquired by Moog Inc. in 2013. PlanetiQ, which has raised about $5 million in funding to date from a variety of sources, is in the middle of raising a Series B round of funding.

PlanetiQ has six employees in Maryland, where its corporate and business units reside. Stillman said that office is also expected to grow in the coming months.

PlanetiQ and BCT officials announced their collaboration in June on the commercial satellite constellation that they expect will improve weather-modeling capabilities for a wide range of users. PlanetiQ is making the sensors and imaging equipment, which use a technique called GPS Radio Occultation to gather data. BCT is building the spacecraft and integrating all of the systems. PlanetiQ plans to sell the data gathered from the satellites — each about the size of two loaves of bread — to customers in the meteorology, aviation, shipping, defense, intelligence and agriculture industries.

The satellites are slated to be on orbit by the end of 2017. PlanetiQ officials are in negotiations with Antrix Corp., on the launch of the first two satellites in late 2016.

Woodward inks deal with Aircelle to make Airbus A330neo components

FORT COLLINS — Officials for Woodward Inc. (Nasdaq: WWD) on Wednesday announced that the company has struck a deal to supply hardware for the thrust reverser actuation system for the A330neo jetliner being developed by Airbus.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal is similar to one announced by Fort Collins-based Woodward in December in which the company will build the TRAS systems for the new Boeing 777X plane.

The deal announced Wednesday is with Aircelle, which is responsible for the shell, or nacelle, of the A330neo engine. The TRAS is a braking system for the plane that opens doors on the front of the engine upon landing to direct thrust forward and provide rapid deceleration.

Woodward makes the TRAS systems for multiple other planes for both Airbus and Boeing.

The twin-aisle, dual-engine Airbus A330neo will be an updated version of the current A330 that is designed to be more fuel-efficient. Rolls Royce is making the engine for the new aircraft.

Woodward director of investor relations Don Guzzardo said that the new deal wouldn’t likely affect hiring in Northern Colorado, where the company has about 1,400 employees spread among Fort Collins, Loveland and Windsor.

Woodward’s TRAS business, purchased in 2012 from GE, is based in Duarte, Calif. Guzzardo said Woodward would likely starting working on production of the A330neo TRAS system in 2016, with the plane slated to become operational in late 2017.

Woodward shares were trading at $48 by late afternoon Wednesday, down 41 cents from Tuesday’s close.

Boosted by new Agco deal, growing Agribotix moving to larger Boulder space

BOULDER – Agribotix, which provides data analytics and makes drones for precision agriculture, is moving its headquarters to a larger Boulder location to accommodate rapid growth that is due in part to a new deal to feature the company’s technology at 1,600 Agco Corp. dealerships in North America.

Agribotix director of business development Jason Barton said Monday that the company is in the process of moving into a roughly 3,500-square-foot space at Boulder Municipal Airport that is about triple the size of the company’s spot at 2983 Sterling Court.

The year-and-a-half-old company has doubled in size to 20 employees over the past two and a half months as demand for its technology has taken flight. Agribotix provides cloud-based analysis of data gathered from fields by drones to help farmers optimize their use of things such as fertilizer and herbicides to increase crop yields. The company sells the analytics as a service to customers with their own drones, as well as a turnkey system that includes a drone and cameras.

Agco (NYSE: AGCO), a major manufacturer and distributor of farm equipment based in Georgia whose brands include Massey Ferguson, announced the new deal with Agribotix and California-based 3D Robotics last week. As part of the deal, Agco will sell a 3D Robotics quadcopter drone that is equipped with both a standard visual camera and a near-infrared camera. The Solo Agco Edition, which sells for $5,999, will come with one year of Agribotix data analytics included.

The Solo Agco Edition is similar to the turnkey systems that Agribotix sells itself for $9,500. The differences are that the version that Agribotix sells itself is assembled in Boulder from off-the-shelf parts, is capable of carrying both cameras at once, and has better battery life. But the core product of Agribotix since early in its existence has been its data-analytics offering rather than drones themselves, and the Agco deal gives Agribotix major exposure it didn’t have before.

“Having a partnership with a company like Agco is obviously a huge step,” Barton said. “It’s going to get our product and name more widely distributed.”

Farmers or companies that aim to fly drones for commercial purposes must receive case-by-case authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration until formal regulations on such uses are finalized.

Agribotix essentially had been in product-development mode until just a few months ago when inbound sales inquiries began flowing in in earnest. The company just ramped up outbound sales efforts about a month ago. Agribotix sells its products all over the United States, Latin America, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and East Asia, with roughly half to two-thirds of sales coming in the United States.

The Agco announcement came the same week that Agribotix announced that it was launching a joint venture with Eco BCG to sell its products in Latin American countries. In addition to those deals, Agribotix has a partnership with a John Deere dealership in Australia that flies Agribotix’s drones as a service for farmers. Agribotix has an exclusive agent in East Asia as well.

Agribotix officials don’t disclose revenue, but the company, which recently named Lou Faust chief executive, is preparing for more growth. While Barton said the staff size is likely set for the near term, he said the firm will work on raising a Series A round of funding this fall that could trigger further expansion.

DigitalGlobe posts big gains in profit, revenue

WESTMINSTER — Satellite-imagery provider DigitalGlobe Inc. (NYSE: DGI) saw second-quarter profit nearly double and revenue climb 12.8 percent versus the same period a year ago.

DigitalGlobe — which BizWest reported on Wednesday has completed the move of its headquarters from Longmont to Westminster — reported financial results for the three-month period ending June 30 on Thursday. The company posted net income available to common stockholders of $6.7 million, or 9 cents per share, up from $3.9 million, or 5 cents per share a year ago.

Revenue increased from $157.8 million in the second quarter of last year to $178 million this year.

Much of the sales gain came from U.S. government contracts, where the company saw revenue climb 18.4 percent to $113.1 million. But commercial revenue still grew 4.2 percent to $64.9 million.

DigitalGlobe shares, which had closed at $24.76 Wednesday, climbed 5 percent in after-hours trading to $26 upon release of the earnings report.

The company reiterated its outlook for 2015, projecting revenue for the year of between $725 million and $750 million. And adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of between $355 million and $375 million.

“While top-line growth may be somewhat moderated in the second half relative to our original expectations, we still expect revenue to grow at a double-digit rate driven by new capacity, new products and new customers,” DigitalGlobe CEO Jeffrey Tarr said in a prepared statement.

Ball earnings, revenue rise in second quarter

BROOMFIELD — Second-quarter financial figures reported Thursday by Broomfield-based Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL) fell below Wall Street analysts’ prediction for earnings but exceeded their forecast for revenue.

Ball, famous for metal and glass packaging and as the parent of Boulder-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies, reported second-quarter net income of $160.4 million, or$1.13 per share, compared with $153.1 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2014.

The company reported that earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were 89 cents per share, below the 94-cent average estimate from five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research. However, Ball’s reported revenue of $2.17 billion in the period surpassed the forecasters’ prediction of $2.12 billion.

Second-quarter sales of $2.2 billion were slightly less than the $2.3 billion reported in the second quarter of 2014.

For the six months of 2015, net earnings were $181.1 million, or $1.28 per diluted share, on sales of $4.1 billion, compared with $246.6 million, or $1.72 per diluted share, on sales of $4.3 billion in the first six months of 2014.

Aerospace and Technologies reported operating earnings of $19.5 million on sales of $230.2 million, compared with $24.8 million on sales of $241.1 million in the second quarter of 2014. For the first six months, comparable segment operating earnings were $39.5 million on sales of $445 million, compared with $48.9 million on sales of $461.8 million during the same period last year. Backlog at the end of the quarter was $641.3 million.

John A. Hayes, Ball’s president, chairman and chief executive, noted in a prepared statement that a solid volume demand for metal beverage containers in Europe and for aerosol cans globally “were unable to fully offset foreign currency translation, project start-up costs and aluminum premium headwinds.”

It’s been an eventful July for Ball Corp. Earlier this month, and after traveling for nearly a decade through space, Ball’s Ralph instrument, one of three cameras aboard the New Horizons mission, began to return images of Pluto’s surface and geological structure. Earlier this week, even as Ball closed a plant in Bristol, Va., at the cost of 230 jobs, its shareholders were approving a share-issuance proposal related to the one-third equity portion of the purchase price for United Kingdom-based rival Rexam Plc. Ball continues to work to secure the regulatory approvals it needs to complete acquisition of Rexam, Hayes said.

Ball’s stock was trading at $69.49 near Thursday’s close, up 75 cents for the day. Ball shares have climbed roughly 1 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen slightly more than 2 percent. The stock has climbed 10 percent in the past 12 months.