Raytheon ( RTN) reported a rise in third-quarter earnings, raised its full-year guidance for 2008 and offered a rosy picture for the following year.

The Waltham, Mass.-based defense company reported net income of $427 million, or $1.01 a share, compared with $299 million, or 68 cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Earnings a year ago included an $81 million loss in discontinued operations, equal to 18 cents a share, primarily related to Flight Options, a private-jet service that was sold in the fourth quarter.

Raytheon said revenue increased to $5.9 billion, up 12% from the year-ago quarter. On average, analysts expected Raytheon to record a profit of 96 cents a share on sales of $5.66 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Raytheon said it now expects earnings for the full year to fall in a range between $3.95 and $4 a share, up from its previous guidance of profit of $3.80 to $3.95 a share. The company said it expects full-year revenue in a range of $22.9 billion to $23.2 billion, compared with the previous range of $22.6 billion to $23.1 billion.

Wall Street is forecasting a full-year profit of $3.99 a share on revenue of $23.1 billion.

Looking further ahead, Raytheon also provided an initial outlook for 2009, saying it expects earnings of $4.45 to $4.60 a share on revenue of $24.3 billion to $24.8 billion. The average analyst forecast is for earnings of $4.46 a share on revenue of $24.56 billion.

Additionally, the company's board authorized a $2-billion share buyback. Raytheon said the share repurchases will take place from time to time at management's discretion depending on market conditions.

Despite offering guidance that was in line with the Street's expectations, shares of Raytheon were off 0.3% in early trading to $44.06. Among other defense companies, General Dynamics ( GD) was rising 1.3% and Lockheed Martin ( LMT) was tacking on 0.1%. Northrop Grumman ( NOC) slipped 0.4%.

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