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L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: LLL) today reported diluted earnings per share (diluted EPS) from continuing operations of $2.25 for the quarter ended December 31, 2012 (2012 fourth quarter), compared to $2.49 for the quarter ended December 31, 2011 (2011 fourth quarter). The 2011 fourth quarter included a $0.28 net gain for certain items, which are discussed below. Excluding this net gain, diluted EPS increased by 2% compared to $2.21 for the 2011 fourth quarter. Net sales of $3.6 billion for the 2012 fourth quarter increased by 0.5% compared to the 2011 fourth quarter.
“Overall, we had a solid fourth quarter underscored by strong orders, sales and cash flows in spite of the challenges and uncertainty in the U.S. defense budget. Sales increased in our Electronic Systems and AM&M segments, which demonstrates that L-3 is well-positioned and executing our strategy to grow our international and commercial businesses and expand market share,” said Michael T. Strianese, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “For the year, orders grew 7% compared to last year, resulting in a book-to-bill ratio of 1.05x. We ended the quarter with funded backlog of $10.9 billion, up 10% compared to December 2011.”
“We continue to aggressively manage our costs to maintain a competitive advantage in the markets we serve, while delivering affordable and innovative solutions to our customers. We remain focused on shareholder value and deploying our capital using a disciplined and balanced approach that includes cash dividends and share repurchases, modest debt reduction, investment in research and development and acquisitions. Consistent with this strategy, we repurchased $368 million of our common stock and paid dividends of $46 million during the quarter. For 2012, we repurchased a total of $872 million of our shares and paid dividends of $195 million, resulting in approximately $1.1 billion of cash returned to our shareholders. In addition, our acquisitions of the Kollmorgen Electro-Optical business (named L-3 KEO) and the commercial aircraft simulation business of Thales Group (named Link U.K.), enhance our market position and also expand our commercial opportunities.”