Lockheed Martin forecasts 2019 profit below estimates, shares off

January 29, 2019

By Rama Venkat Raman and Mike Stone

(Reuters) – Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s top weapons supplier, on Tuesday forecast 2019 profit below estimates and reported that quarterly margins slipped at the unit that makes the radar-evading F-35 fighter jet and C-130 transport plane.

The company’s shares fell nearly 2.4 percent in premarket trading.

Lockheed expects full-year profit to range between $19.15 and $19.45 per share, below the average analyst estimate of $19.55, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Lockheed and other U.S. weapons makers are expected to benefit from stronger global demand for fighter jets and munitions and higher U.S. defense budgets in fiscal 2020.

During the fourth quarter, Lockheed’s order backlog grew 19 percent to $130.5 billion from $109 billion.

The company finished the year delivering 91 F-35 jets in 2018, up from 66 jets a year earlier. Lockheed has said it aims to deliver more than 130 F-35s in 2019.

Operating margins at the aeronautics division, its biggest, fell to 10.6 percent in the fourth quarter from 11.6 percent a year earlier. The company said the miss was due to lower volume on the C-130 transport aircraft program. Operating margins measure how much profit a company makes on a dollar of sales.

The company earned $4.39 per share from continuing operations, just short of estimates of $4.40 per share.

Net sales rose 4.1 percent to $14.41 billion.

During the quarter Lockheed had an effective tax rate of 13.6 percent which gave it a full-year tax rate of 15.5 percent following corporate tax reform in the United States.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Jeffrey Benkoe)