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United Tech sees brightening Sikorsky future amid sale rumors

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) - United Technologies Corp's finance chief on Thursday declined to comment on a report the company may sell or spin off its Sikorsky helicopter unit, but pointed to brightening prospects for the maker of Black Hawk helicopters.

"If we comment on this rumor, we'll have to comment on every subsequent rumor, so I can't say, 'Yes, we're selling Sikorsky,' or, 'No, we're not selling Sikorsky,'" said Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes, when asked at an investor conference about last week's report.

Sikorsky generated $6.25 billion in revenue in 2013, a decline of 7.9 percent, while operating profit fell more than 16 percent to $594 million. It accounted for about 10 percent of United Tech's overall revenue of $62.6 billion last year.

"The thought today, with the business where it is and the earnings where they are, there's nothing but upside at Sikorsky in my view," Hayes said during the presentation at Cowen & Co's Aerospace/Defense & Transportation Conference.

Sikorsky's results were hurt last year as the military limited its orders for replacement helicopter parts, Hayes said.

But he said Sikorsky now has opportunities with U.S. contracts for a combat rescue helicopter and a presidential helicopter, as well as "a huge international market in place that's going to play out."

Sikorsky "has a very bright future but a tough couple of years," Hayes said. "You want assets that are going to grow, and that's where we see Sikorsky today."

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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