General Dynamics (GD) - Get Report said first-quarter earnings rose 8% from a year ago on a 16% sales gain.

The Falls Church, Va., defense contractor made $382 million, or 94 cents a share, from continuing operations, up from the year-ago $353 million, or 87 cents a share. Revenue rose to $5.57 billion from $4.8 billion a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for an 84-cent profit on sales of $5.25 billion.

Net cash provided by operating activities was $465 million for the quarter. Free cash flow from operations, defined as net cash provided by operating activities less capital expenditures, was $406 million.

"General Dynamics delivered another strong performance in the first quarter of 2006," said CEO Nicholas D. Chabraja. "Revenues and operating earnings increased significantly over the first quarter of 2005, reflecting growth in each of the company's four major business groups. Margins were strong in all segments, with three of the four groups exhibiting healthy increases. Net cash provided by operating activities and free cash flow from operations exceeded net earnings in the quarter."