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Higher net as engine maker bets on defense

BRITISH engine maker Rolls Royce Group Plc posted better-than-expected full-year results and said it sees 2009 underlying profit broadly similar to last year, although it was too early to predict the full impact of the economic crisis.

The company, best known for manufacturing plane engines, said in a statement yesterday that the current year would be difficult for the economy but that the diversity of its business and strength of the balance sheet would see it develop the business in the longer term.

"The current economic crisis will have an impact on the group, its customers and suppliers, but it is too early to be precise about the scale and duration of these effects," it said.

Chief Executive John Rose told reporters he expected demand to slip in the civil sector, but that defense would remain strong.

"There is evidence of reducing demand. We expect civil profit to be down a little, but for marine and defense to grow strongly," he said, adding the nuclear power industry would help sustain the business over the next decade.

Rolls reported a 2008 pretax profit of 880 million pounds (US$1.27 billion), 10 percent higher than the previous year and slightly ahead of analysts' forecasts of 872 million pounds, according to Reuters' estimates.


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