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Wed, Mar 11, 2009

United Technologies To Lay Off Nearly 12,000 Workers

Aerospace Losses Contribute To Dour Forecast

The conglomerate that owns such notable aerospace companies as Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney, Rocketdyne and Hamilton Sundstrand will cut 5 percent of its global workforce this year, the latest victim of a staggeringly awful global economy.

United Technologies Corp. announced Tuesday it will shed 11,600 jobs from all divisions this year, as the company revised its once-optimistic forecast of an economic recovery this year.

"The outlook for commercial aerospace and global construction markets has continued to deteriorate," Louis Chenevert, president and CEO, told the Wall Street Journal.

It wasn't long ago UTC expressed much different sentiments. As ANN reported in January, the company was lauded for its impressive performance in 2008; Sikorsky, in particular, posted 25 "organic growth" over the previous year, which helped offset downturns in other segments of UTC's portfolio.

At the time, Chenevert predicted the economy at large would be on the path to recovery by the second half of 2009... but evidence now indicates that's just not going to happen. "Now I don't believe there's going to be a recovery in '09," Chenevert said.

While aerospace will likely perform better than other UTC companies like Otis Elevator and Carrier air conditioners -- both tied to the slumping housing and construction sectors -- almost all industries in United Technologies' diversified portfolio are expected to take a hit.

After projecting strong growth in shipments for 2009 just three months ago, Pratt & Whitney now hopes engine deliveries in 2009 will be flat, and not drop further... as the market for business aircraft continues its freefall.

"These are tough things you'd rather not do, but it was important to get out there and be aggressive and proactive," Chenevert said of the planned layoffs, which are expected to be focused on administrative and sales staff.

Sikorsky remains one bright spot for UTC, with expected shipments up to 15 percent higher in 2009 thanks to demand for helicopters for the military and offshore oil platform operators.

FMI: www.utc.com

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