Northrop earnings climb 44% in quarter

LOS ANGELES — LOS ANGELES - Northrop Grumman Corp., the world's largest builder of warships, said yesterday that its second-quarter profit rose 44 percent as it increased work on the U.S. Navy's newest destroyer and boosted sales of missile-defense systems and unmanned spy planes.

The company also raised its full-year forecast.


Net income rose to $295 million, or 81 cents a share, from $205 million, or 54 cents, a year earlier, Northrop said. Sales climbed 11 percent to $7.37 billion, the 14th straight quarter of double-digit sales growth.

The success of Northrop's Global Hawk spy plane in Iraq and Afghanistan is leading to more orders. Rising U.S. defense spending is adding funds to Northrop programs to develop the DD(X) destroyer and airborne radar to track cruise missiles, along with missile-defense programs promoted by President Bush. Northrop's profit from ship contracts more than quadrupled in the quarter.


"Ships pay the bills; they are big-ticket items," said Frank Giove, an analyst at Trusco Capital Management in Atlanta, adding that Northrop also is "well-positioned" in equipment for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, he said.

The results reflect a 2-for-1 stock split last month.

Northrop's Electronic Systems unit, based in Linthicum, lost $60 million before taxes in the quarter because of cost overruns on electronics for the F-16 jet fighter, the company said.

Northrop decided to sell its component technologies group in 2002 and has since reported its results as discontinued. Excluding discontinued businesses, profit from continuing operations in the second quarter rose to $289 million, or 79 cents a share, from $207 million, or 55 cents, for the second quarter last year.

On that basis, Northrop was expected to report profit of 75 cents a share. Analysts had forecast sales of $7.16 billion, up from $6.63 billion a year earlier.

Sales increased at all six of Northrop's main business units in the second quarter, and operating profit rose at four units.

The company raised its 2004 forecast for earnings from continuing operations to $2.90 to $3 a share from a June forecast of as much as $2.95. It projected sales of $29 billion, up from $28 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of $2.95 a share this year on sales of $28.8 billion.

Northrop's shares fell 95 cents to close at $52.75 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. They have risen 10 percent this year.