Stronger Dollar Holds Back Robinson
Robinson Helicopter posted another solid year in 2013, but it could have been even better had the U.S. dollar not surged against select foreign currencies. That’s the word from company CEO Kurt Robinson. “This year  is almost identical to last year ,” said Robinson, whose company produced 517 helicopters across its product line in 2012. Preliminary production numbers for the company that do not include the closing days of 2013 indicate it produced 39 R22s, 80 R44 Raven Is, 198 R44 Raven IIs and 188 R66 turbine singles. Robinson thinks this year could show a “slight improvement.”
“The dollar got stronger and the economies around the world did not all do as well as people hoped they would,” Robinson said. This has softened sales in select markets that had been strong for the company, including South Africa, where the Rand is at a five-year low and has fallen 30 percent against the dollar since 2012. A decline in exports to Brazil is also attributable mainly to currency exchange rates.
Last year the U.S. dollar surged 21 percent over the Japanese yen, 15 percent versus the Indian rupee, 14 percent against the Australian dollar (Aussie) and 7 percent compared to the Canadian dollar. Against the worldwide ICE mixed currency index, the dollar posted a modest 0.5-percent gain. However, the dollar continued to give modest ground versus the Euro, British pound and Chinese yuan.
Robinson did point to gains in R66 sales as that turbine single earns approval in more countries. In 2013 it gained several new certifications, most notably in Canada and Russia. The export market continues to comprise 70 percent of all Robinson sales. Kurt Robinson said the company will continue to focus on bringing glass panels to its cockpits and focusing on continuing to keep the company “lean and mean” to bring value to its customers.