PARIS, April 25 (Reuters) - Europe's largest defence electronics company, Thales, maintained its forecasts for 2013 after seeing a 3 percent rise in first-quarter sales blurred by a sharp drop in orders compared with a strong start to 2012.
The French maker of military radars and civil aerospace and rail systems on Thursday predicted stable full-year sales as growth in civil activities absorb the impact of lower defence spending.
First-quarter sales rose 3 percent to 2.755 billion euros ($3.58 billion), led by improved billings on existing military contracts in France, Britain and India. On a like-for-like basis, quarterly revenue rose 5 percent.
Fresh order intake took a 50 percent dive in the transport sector, and aerospace orders fell 5 percent, pushing the total intake down 22 percent to 2.05 billion euros. Year-ago figures had been boosted by rail contracts in Denmark and Singapore.
"Despite the continuing unfavourable economic environment in Europe, the group is anticipating a slight upturn in orders in 2013, largely due to the expected performance in the emerging countries," Thales said in a statement.
Thales is targeting 5-8 percent growth in 2013 operating income. ($1 = 0.7695 euros) (Reporting by Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer; Editing by James Regan)