General Dynamics Overcomes Slower Combat Sales

General Dynamics ( GD) reported that its third-quarter earnings rose 16% on higher sales in its shipbuilding unit and information technology business.

The company's product mix led to the good sales figures. The company saw a nearly 13% jump in its marine division, which makes warships and submarines for the Navy. Sales in the company's information technology division gained nearly 5%, while the Gulfstream private jet unit saw sales rise about 4%. The only sales dip was in the company's combat systems division, which makes tanks, armored vehicles and other battle equipment.

The company slightly raised its full-year forecast to $6.10 per share, from a previous range of $6 to $6.05 per share. Consensus estimates currently sit at $6.13 per share.

We had removed GD from our "recommended" list back on Sept. 22, when shares were trading at $82.39. The company has a dividend yield of 2.52%, based on last night's closing stock price of $55.48. The company is fairly attractive at 9 times 2009 EPS estimates, and we may reconsider our current ratings stance if shares and the economy can stabilize a bit.

General Dynamics is not recommended at this time, holding a rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars.

Higher Coal Volumes Propel Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern ( NSC) just reported that its revenue for the third quarter rose 23% to $2.89 billion. The results were 16 cents ahead of estimates.

The company saw a big jump in its coal revenue, which spiked 52% to $876 million in the quarter. Management said total traffic fell 1% in the quarter, as sinking carloads of automobiles and housing-related products were countered by higher coal volumes. Production and plant shutdowns at U.S. automakers will be a negative and will likely hurt the company's results next quarter.

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