By Gene G. Marcial Techs aren't flying off the charts, but Rockwell Collins (COL) is, hitting a new high of 35, up from 29 in May. Spun off in 2001 by Rockwell International, Collins is a world leader in high-tech aviation electronics and communications. "The aerospace market is on the way to a global recovery, and defense spending is apt to stay robust -- a big plus for Collins," says Marion Schultheis of investment firm J. & W. Seligman, which owns shares. Among big Collins investors: Barclays Bank (BCS), T. Rowe Price, and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK).
Defense accounted for 50% of Collins' sales in 2003, and commercial 50%. Schultheis says rising demand for business jets and larger aircraft is boosting commercial sales. She notes that Collins has been selected for a group led by General Dynamics (GD) to develop small, lightweight, software-oriented radios for all branches of the U.S. military. Cai von Rumohr of investment firm SG Cowen sees Collins earning $1.66 a share in 2004 ending Sept. 30, and $1.93 in 2005 -- both above consensus estimates. Some "wild cards" not reflected in his numbers, says von Rumohr, are the improving demand for widebody aircraft in Asia and a possible recovery in the ailing U.S. airlines.
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