* Q1 adjusted EPS $1.22 vs $1.07 forecast
* Q1 revenue $682.6 mln vs $697.2 mln forecast
* To pay dividend of $0.32 for Q1 vs $0.30 for Q4
(Adds comments from CEO, share reaction, background)
By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, May 13 A strong increase in Elbit
System's orders backlog signals growth in 2014, its
chief executive said on Tuesday after the Israeli defence
electronics firm posted first-quarter profit that topped
Elbit, Israel's largest publicly traded defence
company by revenue and market value, said its backlog of orders
rose to $6.06 billion at the end of March - the first time it
surpassed $6 billion - from $5.78 billion a year earlier.
"We started the year on the right foot. We see growth in our
backlog, which signals the trend and forecasts the future,"
Bezhalel Machlis, who took over as CEO a year ago, told Reuters.
Latin America and Asia Pacific were particularly strong
markets for the company but Elbit also won new orders in Europe,
which had been flat in previous quarters, and the United States,
where it was awarded a homeland security contract to deploy
border surveillance technology in Arizona.
Elbit reported new orders worth over $800 million since the
beginning of 2014.
Outlays on large defence platforms by governments around the
world have slowed in recent years but Elbit specialises in some
niche segments that are in demand. These include cyber security,
intelligence, homeland security, unmanned air vehicles and
"We are in the right areas of business that the world needs
now," Machlis said.
The company earned $1.22 per diluted share excluding
one-time items in the first quarter, unchanged from a year
earlier. Revenue rose to $682.6 million from $680.2 million.
Elbit was forecast to earn $1.07 a share on revenue of
$697.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Elbit's shares were up 0.9 percent to 214.5 shekels in
midday trade in Tel Aviv.
Machlis said in March he saw potential for $2-$3 billion of
new orders in Latin America in the next three years, as well as
$2-$3 billion in Australia and $3-$4 billion in India.
Elbit declared a dividend of 32 cents per share for the
first quarter, up from 30 cents for the fourth quarter.
($1 = 3.45 shekels)
(Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer)