File photo of a Sikorksy-made HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter conducting a rescue operation. (MARK RALSTON / AFP/Getty Images / January 7, 2014)
United Technologies Corp. declined on Monday to discuss a report in an industry publication that it is considering a sale or spin-off of Sikorsky Aircraft, its helicopter manufacturer facing difficulties from lower Pentagon budgets.
The publication, Defense News, cited unnamed sources who said that a spinoff or divestiture are most likely options for Sikorsky.
John Moran, a spokesman for Hartford-based United Technologies, said the company does not comment on market rumors.
Industry analysts said Monday that rumors that United Technologies wants to sell Sikorsky are common, and that the new report, in their opinion, don’t seem to hold any more weight than previous ones.
If true, however, there could be an underlying logic to the move, analysts said, as the Pentagon lowers its demand for helicopters and United Technologies could definitely apply cash from a sale elsewhere.
“It’s not inconceivable,” said aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va.
The Stratford helicopter manufacturer has spent the past few years dealing with lower demand from the Pentagon, leading to cost-cutting and lower profits.
Sikorsky had at least two significant rounds of layoffs in 2013. It eliminated about 200 salaried jobs in June, mostly in Connecticut, as company President Mick Maurer cited Pentagon cutbacks in spare parts orders. In October, the company announced a layoff of about 200 hourly jobs, again mostly in Connecticut.
Despite those cuts, about half of the company’s overall workforce remains in its home state, where it has about 8,300 employees. Sikorsky is the United Technologies division with the highest percentage of its total workforce in Connecticut.