Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC) beat Wall Street estimates for revenue in the third quarter and raised its 2017 profit forecast for the third time as aircraft sales rose.
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Shares of the company rose 2.1 percent at $300.11 in premarket trading on Wednesday.
The weapons maker raised its full-year profit forecast range to $12.90-$13.10 per share from $12.10-$12.40 per share and said it expected revenue of about $25.50 billion, up from low-$25 billion range it estimated earlier.
Sales at Northrop's aerospace unit, which makes manned aircraft, jumped 10.8 percent to $3.08 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.
The unit, which contributed the biggest share to Northrop's total revenue in the third quarter, is likely to further benefit from an increased demand for F-35 fighter jets, whose center parts are made by the company.
Larger rival Lockheed Martin Corp, the prime contractor for the F-35 program, said on Tuesday it expected sales of the jets to increase 13-15 percent in 2018, after rising 16 percent this year.
Sales at Northrop's second-biggest business, mission systems, increased 5.2 percent to $2.84 billion. The unit makes control radars for F-35s, combat avionics and a variety of defense electronics.
Northrop, like its peers in the United States, is benefiting from higher demand for weapons, fighter jets and tanks amid heightened security concerns around the world.
The maker of Global Hawk surveillance planes also flagged a $90 million rise in expenses, which included $27 million transaction costs related to the acquisition of aerospace company Orbital ATK Inc
Last month, Northrop Grumman said it would buy Orbital ATK for about $7.8 billion in a deal that gives it greater access to lucrative government contracts and expands its arsenal of missile defense systems and space rockets.
Northrop's net income rose to $645 million, or $3.68 per share, from $602 million, or $3.35 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $6.53 billion.
Up to Monday's close, the company's shares had risen about 26 percent this year. (Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Arun Koyyur)