Elbit Systems 2010 sales to be flat -CEO

Israel, July 25 (Reuters) – Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems’ (ESLT.O)(ESLT.TA) 2010 revenues should be flat from last year but its order backlog should continue to grow in 2011, Chief Executive Joseph Ackerman said on Sunday.

Elbit, Israel’s largest publically traded defence firm, posted 2009 revenue of $2.83 billion, up 7.4 percent from 2008, while its backlog of orders topped $5 billion.

“We have experienced a slowdown in the decision process in our customers and I don’t know what will happen this quarter. We may see the same phenomena happening again,” Ackerman told Reuters on the sidelines of a media event.

“On a year basis I think that the neighbourhood of our sales will be as last year, give or take, but nevertheless since we see growing demand for our programmes — defence electronics, electronic warfare and electro-optics — starting in 2011 we see our backlog continuing to grow,” he said.

Ackerman said Elbit had a strong balance sheet, particularly after raising $284 million in a bond offering last month, which would allow Elbit to seek out acquisitions.

“We would not like to limit ourselves to the size of this kind of acquisition. We have this money for any acquisition that we may do either in Israel or in other countries,” he said.

Ackerman noted that Elbit has had minimal impact from its business with Turkey in the wake of increasing tensions between Israel and Turkey after Israel intercepted an aid ship bound for Gaza.

“At the beginning, we experienced a few days of uncertainty but since then all our programmes are in process as usual and as of today we don’t see any impact on ongoing programs with (the) Turkish Ministry of Defence,” Ackerman said. (Reporting by Rami Amichai; writing by Steven Scheer; editing by Karen Foster)