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Japanese Boeing supplier warms up to Airbus

21/03/2008 - 11:03
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By Mayumi Negishi

KYOTO, Japan (Reuters) - Japanese analytical instrument and airplane component maker Shimadzu Corp <7701.T> has held preliminary talks with Airbus after repeated delays in plane deliveries at client Boeing Co .

Japan's defense budget cuts have hurt Shimadzu's aircraft equipment business, prompting it to go after orders for control systems at Boeing. But Shimadzu's president said on Friday that the company now needs to expand its client base.

While its shipments to Boeing are still small, an expected delay in the U.S. plane maker's new 787 Dreamliner would not help matters, President Shigehiko Hattori said.

"Initial research costs are huge in the air plane business and returns don't come in until seven years later," he told reporters following a news conference about the company's mid-term plan. "Delays hurt."

Shimadzu officials including Hattori have met with the head of Airbus's Japan unit, he said, without providing further details.

Airbus, which hopes to supply more aircraft to Japan Airlines Corp <9205.T> and All Nippon Airways <9202.T>, has said it aims to procure more parts from Japanese companies.

Shimadzu, which supplies turbomolecular vacuum pumps to makers of semiconductor-processing equipment such as Applied Materials Inc and Lam Research Corp , expects total sales to rise 13 percent in three years to 320 billion yen ($3.22 billion) in the year ending March 2011.

Strong demand for its pumps, depositors and digital panels -- used to make products ranging from microchips to solar panels to tools to take mammographs -- as well as demand for clean air and safe food, would help drive growth, Hattori said.

But he said airplane equipment sales would fall 17.7 percent to 24.7 billion yen in the same year, compared with its forecast for the year ending this month.

Wall Street analysts expect at least six months' delay for Boeing's new lightweight Dreamliner, due to last-minute design changes.

That could mean delivery in the second half of 2009, about 15 months behind the original schedule, which the U.S. plane maker has pushed back twice.

CLEAN GROWTH

Shimadzu is stepping up development and production in China of equipment to measure air pollutants and pesticides, betting demand from China would push overseas sales percentage up above the 40 percent expected this year.

Shimadzu also hopes to expand into equipment to measure fuel efficiency and pollutants in exhaust.

It now plans 35 billion yen in capital spending in the next three years, spending 6 billion yen on two new plants to make X-ray equipment and other medical devices, keeping cash on hand for potential acquisitions, Hattori said.

The firm is not now in talks to buy a company, he added.

Shimadzu targets a 11.3 percent operating profit margin in the year to March 2011 from an expected 9.7 percent in the year ending March 31.

Shares of Shimadzu closed up 1.3 percent at 932 yen, slightly behind the pace of the benchmark Nikkei share average <.N225>, which gained 1.8 percent.

(Reporting by Mayumi Negishi; editing by Gary Crosse)


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