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Moog doesn't expect 2007 will match 2006 'O-six was a great year, we hate to see it go'

Stockholder Mickey Gluck came to Moog Inc.'s annual meeting in Buffalo Wednesday without any pointed questions for management.

The Hamilton, Ont., resident's stock is up 15 percent in less than a year he's owned it -- all he wants from Moog is more of the same. "I think it'll still be up," he said of the outlook.

The Elma-based aerospace company, which employs about 2,100 people in Western New York, share's Gluck's hope. But it doesn't expect 2007 to match fiscal 2006, with its 24 percent jump in sales and 20 percent rise in profits per share.

"O-six was a great year, we hate to see it go," chairman and chief executive Robert T. Brady said.

About 200 people attended the company's annual meeting at the Albright Knox Museum auditorium. Moog's fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

The major employer has long diversified across business sectors to insulate itself from ups and downs in any one industry, Brady said. Some years, the sectors are more up than down.

The company makes aircraft controls that move the flaps on the F-35 fighter and the Boeing 767; parts for plastic molding machines that make CDs and DVDs; slip rings that connect oil drilling shafts to offshore platforms, and medical pumps that administer intravenous drugs.

Moog shares ended Wednesday at $38.52, up 18 cents. Last year the shares gained about 35 percent.

The company's aircraft business, its biggest unit, passed an important milestone in December with the first flight of the F-35 fighter, Brady said. The Lockheed-Martin jet is designed as a single platform to replace existing jets used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

"First flight is the critical milestone in any aircraft development program," said Mark Trabert, deputy general manager of Moog's aircraft group.

Plans call for 2,500 of the jets to be produced eventually, with Moog's flight controls pushing the flaps and rudders.

"My hunch is it's the last manned fighter aircraft the U.S. will develop," Brady said.

Rising oil prices are also giving Moog a boost, as oil exploration geared up and consumed more parts for offshore drilling rigs. Moog is developing technology to drill in deeper water as the world's "easy oil" runs out, Brady said.

Medical devices, Moog's newest business, are forecast to add $40 million to this year's sales, about triple last year's volume. Moog entered the business in 2006 with the acquisition of device maker Curlin Medical. Brady calls the move "an adventure" for a company that makes industrial parts and aircraft controls. Still, he said, hospitals need precise and reliable pumps to deliver drugs, the same properties that aircraft need from Moog hydraulic pumps.

"The parts we make are not easy to make," he said. "You have to work pretty hard to get it right."

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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