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Raytheon

(RTN) - Get Raytheon Company Report

, citing improved results at its integrated defense systems and aircraft businesses, posted a 41% jump in third-quarter earnings and easily topped Wall Street's estimates.

The Waltham, Mass., defense contractor also increased its profit forecast for the full year.

Raytheon said Thursday that its third-quarter profit jumped to $321 million, or 71 cents a share, from $228 million, or 50 cents a share, a year earlier.

Earnings per share from continuing operations were 72 cents. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 64 cents a share.

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Raytheon's sales rose to $5.69 billion from $5.33 billion, though were slightly short of Wall Street's forecast of $5.77 billion.

The company's government and defense businesses reported third-quarter bookings of $5.24 billion, up from $3.44 billion a year earlier, driven by several programs in its missile systems and network centric systems operations.

Raytheon ended the quarter with a backlog of $34.59 billion, compared with $34.42 billion at the same time in 2005.

For 2006, Raytheon projects earnings of $2.70 to $2.80 a share, up from a prior view of $2.60 to $2.70. The company maintained its forecast for sales of $23.1 billion to $23.6 billion.

Analysts predict 2006 earnings of $2.73 a share on sales of $23.34 billion.

Raytheon also guided to 2007 earnings from continuing operations of $2.95 to $3.05 a share, with sales of $24.6 billion to $25.1 billion. Wall Street forecasts 2007 earnings of $3.09 a share and sales of $24.74 billion.

Shares of Raytheon were up $1.52, or 3.1%, to $51 in premarket trading.