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Defence giant BAE shrugs off pandemic with jump in sales

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Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
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Defence supplier BAE Systems has said a new order of Typhoon jets will help drive it to another year of growth after posting higher sales in the face of the pandemic.

Shares in the company nudged higher in early trading after it delivered earnings per share ahead of market expectations.

BAE said it delivered a 2% increase in earnings per share for the past year, with this expected to rise to between 3% and 5% in 2021.

It told investors that sales rose to £20.86 billion in 2020, up from £20.11 billion in the previous full year.

The company broadly shrugged off the impact of the pandemic, although some products it sells to commercial sectors such as aviation, cyber and transport saw a fall in demand.

However, it said this this was largely offset by positive trading in its electronic systems, fighter jet and combat shipbuilding units.

BAE added that it expects two acquisitions in its electronic systems business from last year to help boost its performance in the current year.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive of the company, said: “Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our employees and close cooperation with our customers, suppliers and trades unions, we have delivered a strong set of results against a challenging backdrop of the global pandemic.

“Throughout 2020 we focused on keeping our people safe and supporting our communities, whilst continuing to deliver for our customers.

“In 2021 we will continue to drive operational performance, progress our sustainability agenda and invest in high-end discriminating technologies to meet our customers’ priorities, which will ensure we are well positioned to grow the business and contribute to the economic prosperity of the countries in which we operate.”

Shares were 1.1% higher at 501.6p in early trading.