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France's Thales issues 2019 sales warning on space, defence woes

PARIS (Reuters) - Thales TCFP.PA cut its 2019 revenue growth forecast on Thursday due mainly to slow sales of commercial satellites and production delays with an Australian military vehicle project.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Thales is seen at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech,in Paris, France May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Bringing forward part of a quarterly results announcement scheduled for Oct 22, the French company reported flat nine-month revenues of 10.87 billion euros (9.4 billion pounds).

Europe’s largest defence electronics company now expects full-year revenues to grow around 1% on an organic or like-for-like basis, rather than a previous goal of around 3%.

All other financial targets remain unchanged and Thales will communicate its quarterly order intake figures next Tuesday as previously planned, Finance Director Pascal Bouchiat said.

Thales builds satellites through Thales Alenia Space, two-thirds-owned by Thales and the rest by Italy's Leonardo LDOF.MI. French newspaper La Tribune reported earlier this year that it faced job cuts after losing market share to rivals.

Thales said the market was poised to recover, but not quickly enough to start bringing in the amount of revenue originally anticipated in the final quarter.

“Our space business is faced with a reduction in orders by the satellite operators. We think this market is gradually recovering but orders are a little slow to materialise,” Bouchiat told reporters on a conference call.

Thales is involved in the final stage of four significant commercial satellite tenders, whose conclusion is expected in the coming weeks, the company said.

In the defence business, Bouchiat cited delays in increasing production for the Hawkei Australian military vehicle programme, as well as delays in some unspecified contract signings.

Delays in building the light protected vehicles will result in some revenue landing in 2020 instead of 2019, Bouchiat said.

Asked about civil aerospace, where Thales supplies in-flight entertainment systems and avionics, Bouchiat said activity was “completely satisfactory” and in line with expectations.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by GV De Clercq and Alexandra Hudson