Image: RBC Bearings.

The aerospace industry has soared during the past several years, as Boeing (NYSE:BA) and other major aircraft manufacturers have responded to soaring demand for new models of airplanes from an airline industry that has suddenly developed the ability to earn profits. Engineered bearings and components are critical to the manufacturing process that Boeing and other aircraft-makers use, and RBC Bearings (NASDAQ:ROLL) has consistently delivered high-quality products that serve the needs of its customers.

Coming into its fiscal second-quarter financial report, RBC Bearings shareholders wanted to see continued growth in sales and net income stemming from the success of the aerospace industry. In large part, RBC delivered on its shareholders' wishes, albeit with some challenges along the way. Let's look more closely at the latest from RBC Bearings, and what the report says about the company's future.

RBC Bearings flies higher
RBC Bearings' fiscal second-quarter results were impressive, although they didn't give investors everything they wanted to see. Revenue jumped 32%, to $148.7 million, but that was actually considerably less than the 37% growth rate that most investors were expecting from the company. Adjusted net income rose 8%, to $17.8 million, and that produced adjusted earnings of $0.76 per share, topping the consensus forecast for $0.72 per share.

Taking a closer look at RBC Bearings, you can see the ongoing disparity between its aerospace business and its defense and industrial markets. Net sales to RBC's aerospace clients soared 60% from the year-ago quarter, with the acquisition of Sargent Aerospace continuing to play a key role in the year-over-year gains. By contrast, sales to industrial markets fell 2.4% during the quarter. Revenue from engineered products climbed more than fivefold even as sales of roller bearings and ball bearings fell, with the key plain-bearings segment seeing growth of nearly 18%.

Still, RBC Bearings faced some challenges in maximizing profits. Adjusted gross margins fell slightly after removing the impact of a one-time accounting adjustment and restructuring charge, and a small rise in overhead costs sent adjusted operating margins down by more than two full percentage points, to 19.6%.

CEO Michael Hartnett summed up the quarter simply. "We saw strength in the aerospace sector in both commercial OEM and aftermarket activity," Hartnett said, but "this performance was partially offset by softness in defense and industrial markets." The CEO also praised RBC's progress in integrating Sargent into its operational footprint, and foresees further gains from the acquisition.

What's next for RBC Bearings?
One thing that RBC Bearings has going for it looking forward is its growing backlog of business. As of the end of the quarter, RBC had $347.8 million in backlog, up almost 60% from the same time a year ago. With acquisitions having driven that number higher, the pace of backlog growth has slowed more recently, picking up only around 2% between June and September.

Still, the biggest consideration for RBC Bearings is whether it will continue to benefit from a favorable environment in the aerospace industry. Boeing has seen some volatility in its own stock in recent months, as concerns about the macroeconomic environment in areas like the Asia-Pacific region called into question assertions about the size of the prospective aerospace market, and the volume of future aircraft orders in the years and decades to come.

More recently, Boeing has restored some confidence in its long-term prospects, especially given the extremely favorable conditions its airline customers are seeing in their own businesses. If Boeing keeps doing well, then it's good news for RBC Bearings and the host of other suppliers that rely on a strong aerospace market for their success.

RBC Bearings has taken full advantage of the boom in aircraft demand, finding more ways to get its components into finished products. If Boeing and its counterparts can keep the aerospace industry firing at full thrust, then RBC is in a good position to ride the industry's coattails higher.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends RBC Bearings. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.