PARIS (Reuters) – French defense group Thales reaffirmed its financial guidance for the full year by announcing a 1.4% drop in its underlying sales in the third quarter, dampened by comparisons with the easing of a first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns a year earlier.
The manufacturer of radar for fighter jets and airport control towers, as well as biometric identity systems, also recorded a 9% recovery in quarterly orders on a like-for-like basis, driven by its satellite business and a partial recovery commercial flights. .
The gradual rebound in short-haul and domestic air travel helped push Thales’s Aerospace unit sales up 4% in the third quarter, while its “Digital Identity and Security” division also increased, as more and more more people are starting to travel after avoiding flights during the pandemic.
“For the long haul, the recovery will take much longer,” CFO Pascal Bouchiat told reporters.
Overall, Thales group sales fell 1.4% to 3.555 billion euros ($ 4.1 billion) in the third quarter due to a difficult comparison basis with the same period one year more early, while new orders rose 9% underlying to 2.992 billion.
Thales said it was continuing to implement the sale of its GTS rail signaling business after announcing advanced talks in August to sell it to Japanese Hitachi. The proposed deal values the division at 1.66 billion euros.
On Tuesday, he said he plans to sign a definitive deal in the first quarter of 2022. For now, the group’s figures for 2020 and 2021 have been adjusted to remove the outgoing unit.
Thales expects 2021 revenue of between 15.8 billion and 16.3 billion euros based on its August 2021 structure, and an operating margin of 9.8% to 10.3%, with orders exceeding turnover.
The Paris-based company, which owns 35% of the French military shipyard Naval Group, reiterated that it did not expect any significant financial impact from the cancellation of a contract to supply Australia with French submarines. .
Australia announced last month that it would cancel a $ 40 billion deal for Naval Group to supply conventional submarines and instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology. after concluding a trilateral security pact.
It remains unclear whether Thales could still take business for the replacement submarines through its presence in the UK.
“As to what a new submarine contract would look like and whether our activities could be involved, it’s far too early to tell,” Bouchiat said.
Asked about widespread concerns over growing labor shortages and logistics bottlenecks, Bouchiat said Thales was facing “a battle for talent” alongside many other companies.
He hasn’t seen any significant bottlenecks in the supply chain, although a semiconductor shortage has cost the company some € 20-30m it hopes to recoup in the fourth quarter. .
(1 $ = 0,8593 €)