Dassault Aviation eyes growth for 2019 as 2018 profits rise

FILE PHOTO: A Qatari Rafale jet fighter is pictured in the factory of French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation in Merignac near Bordeaux, France, February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

PARIS (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 that lifted its shares.

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 shares rose around 4 percent in early session trading, among the top performers on Paris’ SBF-120 index.

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.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta