* Raises final dividend by 20 pct to 21.6p/shr
* Says opening firm order cover for 2010 above 60 pct
* FY adj pretax profit up 24 pct at 89.5 mln stg
* Looking for deals, ideally in 50 mln-70 mln stg range
* Shares up 1.9 pct (Adds CEO comments, share movement)
BANGALORE, March 1 - British defence company Ultra Electronics (ULE.L) posted a 24 percent increase in full-year adjusted pretax profit, beating market forecasts, helped by contribution from acquisitions.
The company, which had wound back its acquisitions in 2009 as it wanted to renegotiate its banking facilities, was looking for deals again, particularly to expand its footprint in the cyberspace security area, Chief Executive Douglas Caster told reporters.
The ideal size for a deal would be about 50 million pounds ($75.78 million) to 70 million pounds, he said.
Happily, I think there are a number of targets out there that would be suitable acquisitions for Ultra, he said.
In 2009, the company made four acquisitions, whereas in 2008 it made eight.
A good area for the company to acquire new business is battle space IT, which includes technology related to net data links, networks and cyber security, electronic warfare and intelligence gathering, Caster said.
I think everybody in the western world is concerned about protecting the networks and particularly the defence networks, he said.
Cyber security has been gaining importance and became a hot topic of public discussion in January, when the giant Internet search company Google Inc (GOOG.O) threatened to pull back from China after complaining of censorship and hacking attacks on it and other companies. [ID:nTOE60C07A]
The company recently renegotiated about 120 million pounds of its 200 million pounds revolving facility. It had drawn about 70.8 million pounds against this facility at December end.
Ultra Electronics was diversifying from a difficult defence market in the UK and had increased its activities in North America, the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East region, Caster said.
About 54 percent of its business comes from North America while about 7 percent comes from the UK's Ministry of Defence, he said.
Despite what people may think defence budgets are still increasing in the US, Caster said.
The company, which makes sonars to help submarines to detect each other, raised its final dividend by 20 percent to 21.6 pence.
Ultra Electronics said it continued to invest in new products and services, business development and acquisitions.
Ultra has created a resilient business model that will drive future order intake and support its performance in 2010 and beyond, Caster said in a statement.
The company said it started 2010 with over 60 percent firm order cover for analysts' consensus revenue forecast for the year. Order book at December end was at 761.8 million pounds.
For the year ended Dec. 31, Ultra Electronics posted an adjusted pretax profit of 89.5 million pounds, compared with 72.2 million pounds a year ago.
Revenue rose 26 percent to 651 million pounds.
For 2009, analysts on average were expecting the company to post an adjusted pretax profit of 86.7 million pounds, on revenue of 657.4 million pounds.
Shares of the company were up 1.9 percent at 1,351 pence at 1203 GMT On Monday on the London Stock Exchange. ($1=.6598 Pound) (Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott, Jarshad Kakkrakandy)