Lockheed Martin raises forecast, earnings beat view again


Lockheed Martin Corp , the largest U.S. weapons maker, on Wednesday posted an 11 percent increase in third-quarter earnings, beating expectations by a wide margin, and raised its full-year forecast.

Lockheed warned that revenues would ease slightly in 2013, pulled lower by a mid-single-digit decline in sales at its information systems and global solutions business.

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It raised its 2012 earnings forecast to a range of $8.20 to $8.40 from a range of $7.90 to $8.10.

It said business segment operating profit would remain above 11 percent next year.

Lockheed, which receives more than 80 percent of its revenue from the U.S. government, said its preliminary 2013 forecast assumed that Congress and the White House would avert additional defense cuts that are due to take effect next year.

If the cuts go into effect, the company said they would have a material effect on its results.

Net earnings per share rose 11 percent to $2.21 in the third quarter, from $1.99 in the year-earlier period, but they fell from $2.38 in the second quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S expected third-quarter earnings per share of $1.85 on revenues of $11.17 billion.

Lockheed, which builds F-35 and F-16 fighter jets, Aegis missiles and new coastal or littoral warships, said revenues dropped 2 percent to $11.87 billion in the third quarter ended September 30, from $12.1 billion in the third quarter of 2011.

Chief Executive Bob Stevens, who retires at the end of the year, said the company's surprisingly good third-quarter operating results reflected a "relentless focus on affordability and program execution."

Lockheed said cash from operations during the quarter reached $1.6 billion, compared with $551 million after pension contributions of $960 million during the third quarter of 2011.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)