* EBIT 210 mln SEK vs consensus 273 mln
* Says customers delaying orders
* Sees increased market risk also in coming quarters
* Repeats sees unchanged full-year adjusted EBIT margin (Adds detail, background)
STOCKHOLM, April 24 (Reuters) - Swedish defence firm Saab reported a surprise fall in first-quarter operating profit on Friday, saying customers were delaying orders due to tough market conditions, and predicted further uncertainty in coming quarters.
Saab, whose products range from its Gripen fighter jet to missiles and advanced command systems and submarines, repeated that it expected its operating profit margin before large extraordinary items to be in line with the margin in 2014, when it was 7.1 percent.
The company, which expects to sign a 39 billion crown ($4.5 billion) Gripen deal with Brazil and a deal with Sweden for new submarines this year, sees organic sales growth this year above its long-term annual 5 percent target.
“The market is still characterised by challenging conditions where customers’ orders are delayed, partially due to financial reasons,” it said. “During the first quarter, we have also seen that political standpoints have had a negative impact,” it added, without elaborating.
“Altogether, this has increased the market risk and we expect that this increased risk will remain in the coming quarters,” it said.
Saab’s earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell 22 percent to 210 million crowns, against a mean forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts for a slight rise to 273 million. Its operating margin shrank to 3.9 percent from 5.1 percent.
The company said the lower margin was due to a changed product and project mix, and costs for the development - in partnership with Boeing - of a jet trainer with which they plan to bid for a U.S. contract.
Order bookings at Saab, which competes with U.S. firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing and France’s Dassault , increased to 4.8 billion crowns from 4.1 billion.
$1 = 8.6070 Swedish crowns Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Pravin Char