News & Analysis

Meggitt PLC investors not sent to Coventry as shares rocket by astonishing 58%

Andrew Saks, Monday, 2 August 2021

Ordinarily, engineering companies that work on long term contracts for government agencies are very much part of the old school.

They are traditional, long-established stalwarts with life-serving staff, civil service-style employment culture and 'a job for life' ethos across the often very bureaucratic ranks.

Whilst astute and highly advanced in their technological mettle, they are the antithesis of Silicon Valley start-ups and are led by the absolute opposite of Mssrs Bezos or Musk.

For this reason, such dyed-in-the-wool leviathans are often stable, non-volatile investments.

Until today that is!

Meggitt PLC, listed on the London Stock Exchange, has been acquired by its North American rival Parker Hannifin with the two companies having agreed on a £6.3 billion valuation for Meggitt.

Meggitt, whose engineering strata spans across the aerospace, defence, and energy markets, has unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the 800p-per-share deal.

This has resulted in an astonishing 58% increase in Meggitt's share price this morning, taking it to a five-year high of 742p per share on the live market.

Founded in Coventry, in Britain's West Midlands 74 years ago, Meggitt has its origins in the heartlands of British aircraft engineering, the region having once been home to Britain's motor manufacturing and aviation powerhouse which, although a shadow of its illustrious past, is still home to some world-famous marques.

Most of the 'family silver' has been sold, with those attempting to go it alone have largely closed down a long time ago. Jaguar Cars, for example, has its origins in the historic Browns Lane site in Coventry, and Land Rover were down the road in Solihull.

Today, the two are one and the same company, their luxury automobiles being produced in a high-tech modern factory in nearby Castle Bromwich, which was built and is operated under Jaguar Cars' owner, Indian multinational company Tata Motors.

During its time as an independent company, Jaguar Cars fell in and out of insolvency, suffered industrial disputes, and was even part of the state-owned British Leyland for quite some time, however under Tata's ownership, even with such vast resources, the figures show how hard it really is to run a manufacturing facility in the Midlands.

Tata makes enormous profits, but its Tata Motors division which owns Jaguar/Land Rover is always struggling.

Alec Issigonis' iconic Mini was the flavor of the 1960s. When BMW CEO of hte 1990s Bernd Pischetsrieder realized his dream of making British cars by buying the marque, he got a very disappointing taste of reality as the Rover brand, along with its Mini intellectual property sank BMW into the red so badly that Mr Pischetsrieder's career was on the line, and BMW ended up ditching it all for £1 to a Chinese giant, whilst retaining the rights to the Mini name.

It is therefore a leap of faith and a remarkable move for Meggitt's new owner.

Meggitt, however, is no stranger to North American aircraft engineering partnerships. During July 1997, Meggitt received its first contract from American commercial airline manufacturer Boeing to provide solid-state clocks for the Boeing 737, and on the defence side, the company was contracted to provide the secondary flight display system for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

It is therefore a known quantity, and its boffins are respected by two giants - Boeing on the civil aviation side, and Lockheed on the military side.

A very interesting day for the lifers at Meggitt, no doubt, but an even more interesting day for shareholders of Meggitt stock on the London Stock Exchange's main market.

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