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Israel's Elbit Systems profit rises more than expected

TEL AVIV, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Israeli defence electronics firm Elbit Systems reported higher quarterly profit that beat estimates due to sales growth in airborne systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as cost cutting measures.

Elbit earned $1.32 per diluted share excluding one-time items in the third quarter, up from $1.18 a share a year earlier, the company said on Thursday.

Revenue grew to $730.6 million from $677.5 million. The company said sales were boosted by gains in its airborne and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, which include UAVs - or drones - for defence and homeland security.

Elbit, Israel's largest publicly traded defence company, was forecast to earn $1.12 a share on revenue of $700.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Its backlog of orders dipped to $5.7 billion from $5.8 billion at the end of June. Some 68 percent of the backlog relates to orders outside Israel.

"In line with our decision to further enhance the effectiveness of our technological capabilities, we are placing increased efforts in research and development as well as in sales and marketing, in order to capitalise on the opportunities we are seeing," Elbit Chief Executive Bezhalel Machlis said.

Elbit will pay a dividend of 30 cents per share, unchanged from previous quarters.