Composites maker Hexcel Corp. posted higher sales in 2018 increasing even as the firm's profit showed a slight decline.
Stamford, Conn.-based Hexcel registered sales of almost $2.2 billion for the year, up almost 11 percent vs. 2017. Profit, however, dipped almost 3 percent to just under $277 million.
Hexcel generated almost 70 percent of its sales from the commercial aerospace market in 2018. The remainder of Hexcel's 2018 sales came from the space/defense and industrial sectors.
Hexcel's industrial sales jumped 29 percent in 2018. In a Jan. 23 news release, officials said this increase resulted from the launch of several new wind turbine platforms that use new Hexcel composites.
Chairman, CEO and President Nick Stanage said in the release that Hexcel "finished 2018 strongly," with record sales, earnings and free cash flow.
"Our team delivered productivity and efficiency improvements across the business, which mitigated some of the unexpected headwinds we encountered throughout the year," he added.
Looking to 2019, Stanage said "the fundamentals of our business are extremely positive" and the firm expects double-digit sales growth, driven by strong commercial aerospace programs and "another double-digit step up in demand" for wind energy products.
In October, Hexcel opened a new carbon fiber plant in Isère, France. The $230 million plant makes carbon fiber and polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor, supplying composites to local aerospace programs, including Airbus SA.
Hexcel also runs a major carbon fiber weaving plant in Les Avenieres and makes prepeg fabrics and carbon fibers in Dagneux, both close to the new site. Before the opening of the Isere plant, Hexcel produced PAN in Decatur, Ala., that was shipped to France.
Positive fourth-quarter and full-year results sent Hexcel's per-share stock price up 8 percent to $66.25 in early trading Jan. 24. The price had fallen around 10 percent during 2018.