LMI Aerospace doesn't have to "just wing it." The company makes key airplane structures such as cockpit window frames, fuselage skins, and interior components. Its aerostructures segment fabricates, machines, finishes, and integrates more than 40,000 aluminum and specialty alloy components for commercial, corporate, and military aircraft. The engineering services unit (D3 Technologies) provides design, engineering, and program management services for aircraft. The Intec division designs and tests composites for production parts. The company also makes components for laser equipment used by semiconductor makers and reusable containers with industrial and military applications.
Based in St. Louis, LMI has operations in 27 locations across the US as well as internationally in Australia, the UK, Mexico, and Sri Lanka. It has nearly 20 fabrication and assembly facilities in North America.
The aerostructures segment, 80% of sales, serves aircraft OEMs and aerospace suppliers, including Gulfstream Aerospace, Boeing, and Sikorsky Aircraft, through long-term contracts as single-source providers of many of its products. The engineering services unit, D3 Technologies, supports an aircraft throughout its entire lifecycle, from conceptual design to service life extension. Specific services include system design, stress element analysis, tool design, and avionics software development for such aircraft technologies as airframes and electro/mechanical and hydraulic/pneumatic systems. Customers of the engineering services segment include Boeing (once again), Bombardier, and Mitsubishi Aircraft.
The aerostructures and engineering services segments work together to provide coordinated service for the company's clients. Most of aerostructures' revenue is recorded when a delivery is made or services given. Engineering services takes in most of its revenue through cost-plus reimbursement contracts. LMI as a whole is dependent on three major customers for much of its sales: Boeing (14%), Gulfstream (15%), and Spirit AeroSystems (about 29%).
LMI has enjoyed steady growth over the last three years, with revenues surging 48% from $279 million in 2012 to $413 million in 2013, a historical milestone for the company. However, in 2013 LMI posted its first net loss ($58 million) in 10 years.
The revenue growth for 2013 was due to a 90% spike in Aerostructures Segment sales, resulting from increased sales from large commercial aircraft. It also experienced higher sales from military products, and components for corporate and regional aircraft attributable to a previous acquisition.
The company's net loss for 2013 was the result of a spike in cost of sales related to its Valent acquisition. Its bottom line also suffered from increased restructuring expenses related to the closure of a machine facility. LMI's operating cash flow has steadily declined over the years. It posted negative cash flow of $8 million cash in 2013 due to increases in inventory to support investments in new programs and higher interest costs.
LMI's strategy is focused on its operations in high speed, hard metal machining, design-build, and composites to meet the needs of the growing number of aircraft OEMs and suppliers who rely on outsourcing. The company also cushions itself against such vicissitudes as military budget cuts or airline industry doldrums by balancing its customer mix, ensuring that the large commercial, corporate, regional, and military aircraft sectors each serve at least three large customers. Globally the company seeks low cost sourcing as a balance to its US engineering and build operations.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The company has achieved record-setting revenue growth through the use of acquisitions. In 2012 it acquired Valent Aerostructures, a provider of complex sub-assemblies and machined parts to airframe manufacturers in the commercial aerospace and military industries, for $237 million. Also in 2012, LMI acquired TASS, an after-market engineering and support services firm. TASS delivers engineering products to aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and MRO companies worldwide.