* Sees 2012 EPS similar to last year vs some progress before
* H1 adjusted pretax profit down 4 pct
* Targets commercial sector as US defence spending uncertain
* Shares down 5.7 percent
(Adds CEO comments, analyst reaction, shares)
LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) - British aero electronics group
Cobham cut its 2012 earnings forecast and warned U.S.
elections and political squabbling over budgets were likely to
keep the outlook for U.S. defence spending uncertain into next
Shares in Cobham, whose equipment helps military vehicles
and aircraft communicate, fell as much as 6.6 percent in early
Earnings per share were likely to be similar to last year,
excluding divestments and assuming any hiatus in U.S. order
placement was no more severe than the usual delays in approving
U.S. government budgets, the company said.
It had previously forecast "some underlying progress" in
"Disappointing," said Investec analyst Andrew Gollan.
"The order book is down 8 percent underlying and visibility
remains poor in the core defence and security markets."
Defence firms have seen contract awards delayed and some
existing deals cancelled as politicians in the United States,
the world's biggest spender on military equipment, argue over
how to cut the country's deficit.
Defence contractors including Northrup Grumman Corp
and General Dynamics Corp have reported lower
second-quarter earnings amid the uncertainty.
"We can and will outperform the U.S. defence and security
market over the medium term, because our technological
capabilities overlap significantly with the Pentagon's strategic
defence priorities, areas such as unmanned systems, electronic
warfare and deployment of special forces," Cobham chief
executive Bob Murphy said.
"But the short-term outlook for this market is less clear.
For this reason we are approaching 2013 with a lot of caution."
At 1035 GMT, Cobham shares were down 5.7 percent at 224.9
pence, the biggest decline by a midcap UK stock.
Cobham is shifting its focus to the fast-growing commercial
aircraft market to offset pressure in the defence sector, where
debt-laden European governments are also cutting back.
"We are underweight in commercial versus overweight in
defence," said Murphy, who has been in the job for less than two
months. "I would like to see us grow the commercial side of our
business so that we can take more advantage of a market that has
good natural growth prospects through the cycle."
The commercial sector accounted for 32 percent of first-half
revenues versus 40 percent for U.S. defence and security markets
and 28 percent for non U.S. defence and security markets.
Suppliers to the civil aerospace sector have been boosted by
order book growth at planemakers Airbus and Boeing
, which expect combined deliveries for 2012 to be well
ahead of last year.
Cobham reported an underlying pretax profit of 142 million
pounds ($222.2 million) for the six months to the end of June on
5 percent lower revenues of 843 million pounds.
Analysts were expecting first-half pretax profit of 140
million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data.
Order intake was down 21 percent at 768 million pounds and
the order book stood at 2.5 billion pounds.
Cobham earlier this year acquired Danish communications
equipment maker Thrane & Thrane, and Murphy said more deals
could be on the cards.
"You shouldn't be surprise to see other acquisitions similar
to Thrane and Thrane," he said.
Cobham increased its interim dividend 33 percent to 2.4
pence per share.
($1 = 0.6390 British pounds)
(Editing by Mark Potter)