Earnings fell at
due to the absence in the latest quarter of profitable discontinued operations that boosted the year-ago period. On a continuing basis, earnings rose 31% from a year ago on a 21% increase in sales.
The technology contractor earned $232 million, or $1.27 a share, in the March quarter, down from $253 million, or $1.34 a share, last year. The 2003 period had earnings from discontin-ued operations of about $80 million, excluding which the company earned $174 million, or 91 cents a share.
The latest quarter also included a gain of 2 cents a share from discontinued operations, before which Northrop earned $1.25 a share. On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been forecasting earnings of $1.21 a share on sales of $6.32 billion. The company also reiterated full-year guidance for earnings of $5.60 to $5.90 a share on sales of about $28 billion. Analysts were forecasting earnings of $5.85 a share on sales of $28.3 billion.
Northrop's biggest segment, electronic systems, saw revenue rise to $1.54 billion in the 2004 quarter from $1.34 billion last year. The segment's profit margins were swollen by higher sales volume and improved performance in its naval and other businesses.
Sales in the company's ships segment rose to $1.44 billion from $1.20 billion a year ago, while sales in information technology rose to $1.23 billion from $1.09 billion, sales in mission systems rose to $1.18 billion from $923 million, and sales in integrated systems rose to $1.18 billion from $825 million.