RTI reports slight gain

In its international quarterly conference call Tuesday announcing a slight increase in net income, RTI International Metals’ top executive ushered praise on the company’s Weathersfield Township plant.

“Airbus gave RTI’s titanium plant in Niles, Ohio, its highest rating for product quality and on-time deliveries,” Dawne S. Hickton, RTI vice chair, president and chief executive officer, said during the conference call. “We congratulate our employees for that award.”

Hickton noted recognition from customers like Airbus for manufacturing quality and reliability goes a long way in the competitive industry.

Hickton said it is the company’s goal to gain new contracts for manufacture of parts for Airbus, which broke ground in April on a new $600 million final aircraft assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

During the call, company executives reported a 21 percent first quarter sales increase over this time last year, but only a slight uptick in operating income to $12.2 million over $12.1 million in first quarter of 2012. Net income was reported at $5.5 million or 18 cents per share, compared to $5.1 million or 17 cents per share this time last year.

In addition, the public sale of $402.5 million of convertible senior notes and the company’s plans to dispose non-core assets are expected to improve RTI’s long-term growth strategy. Hickton called the market’s strong demand of the notes an “endorsement” of the company’s operations.

The CEO noted the company’s aerospace sector did somewhat better than anticipated in the first quarter of 2013, and said she expects the sector to continue to ramp up in the second half of 2013. That comes largely from the FAA’s approval for takeoff of the Boeing 787 dreamliner after it was temporarily grounded due to problems with the aircraft’s lithium battery. RTI expects to be making 10 shipsets per month for Boeing’s 787s by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the company’s backlog at the end of the quarter remains near record-high levels of $569 million, up from $554 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

RTI specializes in advanced titanium manufacture for the aerospace, defense, medical and energy industries. The Pittsburgh-based company employs more than 350 employees at its plant in Weathersfield.