French group Thales' underlying Q1 sales fall 4.7%

PARIS, April 28 (Reuters) - France’s Thales reported first-quarter sales down 4.7% on a like-for-like basis to 3.9 billion euros ($4.2 billion), touched by the beginning of the coronavirus crisis which is set to have a marked impact in the second quarter.

Europe’s largest defence electronics company said the crisis had trimmed organic sales by roughly 200 million euros, adding that they would have been slightly higher in percentage terms without the epidemic that has badly harmed the economy.

On an unadjusted basis, revenues grew 16%, buoyed by the acquisition of digital security company Gemalto.

The company’s order intake fell 15% on an organic basis to 2.66 billion euros.

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on orders was estimated at 190 million euros, including 80 million from civil aerospace.

After adjusting for this, the underlying order intake was down 8%, Thales said.

About 15% of Thales revenues come from sectors most exposed to the crisis, including about 11% from civil aeronautics.

Thales, which recently withdrew its financial guidance for the year, said the greatest impact from the crisis was expected to fall on its civil aeronautics business, which generated sales of around 2.15 billion euros in 2019.

It warned of a “very significant impact” on its activity in the second quarter.

It joined other aerospace companies in giving a cautious assessment of the time it would take for conditions to rebound.

“We will move forward progressively but it will be a slightly long road,” said Chief Financial Officer Pascal Bouchiat.

Boeing said on Monday it could take 2-3 years for air travel to return to 2019 levels.

$1 = 0.9243 euros Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta