Falls Church, Va.-based GD earned $2.58 per share in the fourth quarter, or $2.62 per share adjusted to account for discontinued operations, beating the $2.54 estimate, on sales of $8.23 billion. Analysts had expected $8.291 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.
Companywide margins were 13.6% in the fourth quarter, 30 basis points higher than the same period of 2015, thanks to expansion in its aerospace, IT and marine businesses.
"The quarter is solid showing strong growth over the year-ago quarter in both revenue and earnings and the same was true on a sequential basis," chairman and CEO Phebe Novakovic said in a statement. "The year was strong with growth in earnings, margins, return on sales and an 8.7 percent increase in EPS over the prior year."
The defense sector was expected to be among the big winners post-election, with single-party control of both the White House and Congress easing fears of budget battles and President Donald Trump promising to roll back sequestration caps on spending. But analysts had warned that such moves, though likely, will take time to trickle down to results, and defense firms have given a mixed outlook for 2017.
Boeing (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report and L-3 Communications (LLL) - Get JX Luxventure Limited Report both impressed Wall Street with their results and guidance, while Northrop Grumman (NOC) - Get Northrop Grumman Corporation Report and Raytheon (RTN) - Get Raytheon Company Reportwere more cautious.
General Dynamics said its total backload at year-end was $59.8 billion. The company, which via its National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. unit is one of the nation's primary shipbuilders, ship seems particularly well-positioned to benefit if Trump follows through on his pledge to grow the U.S. Navy.