October 20, 2015 / 11:40 AM / 2 years ago

Lockheed tops third-quarter profit view on increased sales of F-35 jets

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A Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35C Joint Strike Fighter is shown before landing on the deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, while off the coast of California, November 3, 2014.Mike Blake

(Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), the Pentagon's No. 1 weapons supplier, reported better-than-expected quarterly results on higher demand for its F-35 fighter jets, and said it expects full-year revenue at the higher end of its forecast.

Revenue at Lockheed's aeronautics division increased about 11 percent to $3.92 billion in the third quarter, with $500 million coming from additional sales of the F-35 fighter jet, it said on Tuesday.

Lockheed is developing and building F-35 jets for the U.S. military and nine other countries. With estimated development and procurement costs of $391 billion for the United States alone, the F-35 is the world's most expensive weapons program.

Lockheed did not address the timing of its planned purchase of Sikorsky Aircraft, but United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), which owns Sikorsky, expects to close the deal in the fourth quarter.

Excluding the Sikorsky deal and a strategic review aimed at selling or spinning off its services businesses, Lockheed said 2016 sales should be comparable with 2015.

Total operating margin should range from 11.0 percent to 11.5 percent, down from the expected margin of about 12 percent in 2015, it said.

The company sees 2015 sales of $45 billion, and segment operating profit of $5.4 billion. It had forecast sales of $43.5 billion to $45 billion, with segment operating profit of $5.225 billion to $5.375 billion.

Lockheed also forecast earnings per share of $11.30 in 2015, the high end of its earlier forecast of $11.00 to $11.30.

Analysts, on average, looked for 2015 sales of $44.82 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Lockheed said it had $2.4 billion in potential cost and termination liability exposure, given its decision to self-fund work on C-130J transport planes and F-35 jets for the U.S. government while contracts are being negotiated.

It said it was finalizing both agreements with the U.S. government and expected to receive more funding this year. About $750 million in cash the company expected to receive in 2015 could be delayed until 2016.

For the quarter ended Sept. 27, total net sales rose to $11.46 billion from $11.11 billion a year earlier.

Net income fell to $865 million, or $2.77 per share, from $888 million, or $2.76 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected profit of $2.72 per share on revenue of $11.14 billion.

Up to Monday's close, Lockheed's stock had risen 9.4 percent this year, compared with a 1.5 percent decline in the Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index .DJUSAE.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Jeffrey Benkoe

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