Defense and aerospace companies posted better-than-expected earnings Wednesday for the first quarter, with sales gains coming from a broad variety of industry segments.

United Technologies

posted an 18% jump in first-quarter profits, earning $651 million, or $1.28 a share, compared with $551 million, or $1.08 a share, a year earlier. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.25 a share, according to consensus estimates reported by Thomson First Call.

Its results included $50 million in restructuring costs and a gain from the sale of an equity security. They got a boost from double-digit profit growth at its Otis, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and UTC Fire & Security units, fueled margin expansion in the first quarter. Also, revenue at its Carrier air-conditioning unit jumped 21% to $2.71 billion and operating profit more than doubled to $152 million from last year's $62 million.

Overall, United Technologies' revenue rose 9% to $9.41 billion.

Elsewhere,

General Dynamics

(GD) - Get Report

said its net income rose 25%, helped by a tax benefit that lowered the company's tax provision by $63 million from the prior year.

The company earned $336 million, or $1.66 a share, up from $269 million, or $1.34 a share, for the same quarter last year. Excluding the tax gain, its earnings from continuing operations increased to $344 million, or $1.70 a share, from $265 million, or $1.32 a share.

The results eclipsed Wall Street's expectations for earnings of $1.53 a share.

General Dynamics' revenue for the quarter rose 3.7% to $4.82 billion.

Also,

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Report

posted a 22% jump in earnings, beating Wall Street's expectations.

The technology and manufacturing giant earned $359 million, or 42 cents a share, up from last year's $295 million, or 34 cents a share. Analysts were forecasting earnings of 40 cents a share.

Its sales rose 4% in the quarter to $6.45 billion. The gain reflected 6% sales growth offset by the impact of acquisitions and divestitures. Honeywell completed the purchase of British industrial holding company Novar PLC for $2.4 billion during the quarter.

Shares of United Technologies were recently up $2, or 2%, to $11.27. General Dynamics slipped $2.50, or 2.4%, to $101.58 and Honeywell was down 38 cents, or 1%, to $36.12.