LMI Aerospace sees better times ahead despite quarterly loss

Despite a $1.8 million loss in the first quarter, LMI Aerospace chief executive Dan Korte thinks the company is poised for better financial footing.

The St. Louis-based company, which employs about 140 people at two Wichita sites, said Monday the loss came in the first quarter of 2016 on sales of $87.3 million. That compares with a net loss of $1.5 million on net sales of $92.5 million in the first quarter of 2015.

LMI attributed its lower sales to reduced demand on the Gulfstream G450/550 business jet program as well as the Boeing F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin F-35 programs. It also saw lower sales on Bombardier’s Global 7000/8000 large business jet development program as well as Aerion’s AS2 supersonic business jet, also under development.

But it did see increased sales from higher production rates on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Bombardier C-Series programs.

Following a restructuring last year that included job cuts and the closing of two engineering offices and combining others in Washington, Korte thinks there are better days ahead for LMI.

“We begin 2016 with the same focus we had last year: winning new work, streamlining our operations, focusing on cash generation and taking steps to improve LSI’s margins and long-term financial performance,” Korte said on a conference call with financial analysts Monday.

Korte told analysts that the company’s work on several aircraft programs has increased, primarily on Boeing’s new 737 Max as well as the 787. It also is doing work on Gulfstream’s new G500 and G600 business jets.

And LMI has been selected to manufacture parts on “a new, light business jet program,” revenue from which the company should begin receiving in the fourth quarter of 2016. Korte would not identify who is building the new business jet.

“We’re winning new content with marquee customers such as Boeing, Spirit (AeroSystems) and Gulfstream on a variety of exciting platforms that should fuel substantial aerostructures growth in the coming years,” Korte said on the call.

LMI serves as a supplier to Wichita-based Spirit, which manufactures 70 percent of the 737.

LMI operates 22 offices and plants in the U.S., Mexico, United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.

The company’s Wichita plants are at 2853 S. Hillside and W. 2621 Esthner Ct. The Hillside location employs more than 100 people while the Esthner site – near South Meridian and Orient Boulevard – employs about 40 people.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark