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UPDATE 1-UK's BAE on track with air and maritime performing strongly

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LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - British defence group BAE Systems said on Wednesday it was on track to meet its full-year guidance, with air, maritime, electronic systems and intelligence and security continuing to perform strongly.

Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said the company’s good operational performance underlined its confidence in its guidance for top line growth and margin expansion this year, and its three-year cash targets.

“Strategically, our geographically diverse portfolio is aligned to growing defence budget areas; we’re ramping up investment in self-funded R&D aligned to customer focus areas and we’re leveraging our leading capabilities in evolving markets to ensure we’re increasingly well placed to deliver for all our stakeholders,” he said.

BAE said there was positive momentum in its Platforms & Services (US) unit and combat vehicle production across multiple platforms continued to ramp up and was on track to meet agreed delivery schedules.

U.S. ship repair was improving following COVID-19 and other disruptions last year, it said, and Applied Intelligence had a good start to the year with an improved performance.

BAE has forecast a year of top-line growth, with sales expected to grow by 5% to 7% when the impact of currency exchange is excluded, and underlying earnings to increase in excess of 10% excluding currency.

Free cash flow for 2021 is anticipated to be in excess of 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion), with a three-year target for 2021 to 2023 in excess of 4 billion pounds, it said in March.

$1 = 0.7047 pounds Reporting by James Davey and Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton

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