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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 17:33 GMT
Roaring engine deals fuel Rolls
Rolls-Royce Trent 500
Rolls believes it is winging its way to further profits growth
Aircraft engine giant Rolls-Royce has seen its annual profits soar 49%, thanks to strong engine orders and after-sales demand.

Rolls said pre-tax profits jumped to 584m ($1.01bn), beating the 557m figure predicted by analysts.

Strong demand for aircraft engines helped it clinch a record number of new orders, worth 11.3bn in 2005.

Its shares have been among the best performing in the stock market last year, rising 73% last year.

Maintenance contracts have helped Rolls recover from the downturn which afflicted the aviation industry following the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US.

The firm ranks third among sellers of engines for commercial jets, behind General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.

It also sells and maintains engines for military aircraft, ship engines and equipment used by energy companies.

Flying high

Demand for new engines and maintenance of engines already in service sent its 2005 year-end order book up 21% to 22.9bn - its highest ever.

The successful maiden flight of the Airbus A380, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, has boosted the company - along with a deal with Airbus to supply the Trent 1700 engine to power the new A350 aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Royal Saudi Air Force has agreed to buy the Eurofighter, which will be powered by Rolls' EJ200 engine.

"Growth in our sales and order book and our consistent focus on improved efficiency underpin our expectation of further growth in profits and positive cash flow in 2006," said Sir John Rose, chief executive.

On the downside, Rolls suffered a setback recently after US president George W Bush's 2007 budget request scrapped its $2.4bn deal with General Electric to develop a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Shares in Rolls-Royce were down 12 pence, or 2.7%, at 431.5p by the close of trade on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday.

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