(Adds analyst call, shares)
PARIS Oct 21 France's Thales
reaffirmed its financial targets on Wednesday as it reported
flat quarterly revenue brightened by a strong increase in
Europe's largest defence electronics company said its order
intake rose 74 percent in the July-September quarter, led by an
almost sevenfold increase in its Transport division, which won
a London rail deal and an airport security contract in Oman.
Finance Director Pascal Bouchiat told analysts the company
would be "extra vigilant" in supervising major sales contracts
after a series of past cost overruns and said there were
opportunities for observation satellite work in Saudi Arabia.
Thales posted third-quarter sales almost unchanged on an
organic basis at 2.785 billion euros ($3.16 billion), compared
with 2.719 billion a year earlier.
It returned to 3 percent growth in its recently
underperforming Transport division, helping to push Thales
shares higher in early trading, Paris analysts said.
At 0840 GMT, Thales shares were up 1 percent at 62.68 euros
in a slightly weaker market.
A 43 percent increase in third-quarter Defence & Security
orders also helped Thales deliver a positive book-to-bill ratio
- a gauge of the strength of future business - of 1.13 at the
end of the quarter compared with 0.9 a year earlier.
However, the company remained cautious on the speed at which
the order flurry would translate into revenue.
Bouchiat told analysts it was too early to change the
company's outlook for "moderate" sales growth over the
For 2015, Thales expects a low-single-digit percentage
increase in sales and a 15 percent improvement in operating
profit to 1.13-1.15 billion euros.
This month, Thales announced a A$1.3 billion deal to sell
light armoured vehicles to Australia, beating competition from
General Dynamics of the United States.
This week, the company announced the acquisition of data
protection firm Vormetric for $400 million.
($1 = 0.8805 euros)
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer; editing by James
Regan and Jason Neely)