Jonathan D. Salant (c) 2014, Bloomberg News. WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin Corp., the largest U.S. government contractor, topped analysts’ estimates for second-quarter profit and sales on the strength of its aircraft division.
Net income rose 3.5 percent to $889 million, or $2.76 a share, from $859 million, or $2.64, a year earlier, in part due to lower pension costs, the company said Tuesday in a statement. The average estimate of 21 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was $2.66 a share. Lockheed also boosted its full-year profit outlook.
The maker of the F-35 jet, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system, was the first of the five largest federal contractors to report earnings this week. Like other big Pentagon suppliers, Lockheed has been cutting costs to maintain profitability as government budget reductions and the wind-down of the U.S.-led military presence in Afghanistan hurt sales.
Sales declined less than 1 percent in the quarter to $11.3 billion, and beat the average $11.1 billion estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
The Bethesda, Maryland-based company raised its full-year profit outlook to $10.85 to $11.15 a share from $10.50 to $10.80 a share in April. The company affirmed its January estimate of $44 billion to $45.5 billion in sales for the year.
Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement attributed the higher forecast to “solid program execution and operational performance.”
The performance of Lockheed’s largest division, aeronautics, provided a buffer in the second quarter. The unit’s sales jumped 13 percent to $3.86 billion, helped by the F-35.
Aeronautics was the only division to post a gain in operating profit, propelled in part by the F-22 jet and C-130 transport plane programs. Aeronautics’ operating profit rose 11 percent to $453 million in the quarter from a year earlier.
The F-35 development contract had higher operating profit of $85 million due to an adjustment in the second quarter of 2013. Operating profit was comparable for F-35 production contracts.
Lockheed’s other units are space systems, mission systems and training, missiles and fire control, and information systems and global solutions.
Lockheed is increasingly relying on the F-35 jet. The program accounted for 18 percent of Lockheed’s second-quarter sales, Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
“That number will only continue to grow,” Tanner said. “It’s a pretty significant piece of our business.”
The jet program accounted for 16 percent of sales in 2013 and 14 percent a year earlier, according to federal regulatory filings.
Federal budget reductions contributed to the fourth consecutive annual decline in U.S. government contracting last year, the longest stretch since Ronald Reagan was president.
In January, President Barack Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30 and alleviate some of the cuts set to take effect under the budget- cutting process known as sequestration.