Dassault Aviation eyes growth for 2019 as 2018 profits rise

PARIS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - France’s Dassault Aviation forecast higher net sales for 2019 and more orders of planes as it posted a rise in annual sales and profits.

The maker of Rafale warplanes and Falcon business jets said its 2018 operating profits had surged 87 percent from the previous year to 669 million euros ($761 million), while net sales rose 4.3 percent to 5.08 billion euros.

Adjusted net profits rose 66 percent to 681 million euros.

Analysts were on average expecting operating income of 463 million euros on sales of 4.952 billion, according to Eikon Refinitiv data.

Dassault Aviation, in which Airbus has a 9.9 percent stake, said it planned to deliver 45 Falcon and 26 Export Rafales in 2019.

Dassault Aviation increased its dividend to 21.2 euros from 15.3 euros last year.

$1 = 0.8794 euros Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta