Statements made in today's call that are not historical facts are considered forward-looking statements and are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of Federal Securities Law. Actual results may differ. Please see today's press release and our SEC filings for a description of some of the factors that may cause actual results to vary materially from anticipated results.We have posted charts on our website today that we plan to address during the call to supplement our comments. Please access our website at www.lockheedmartin.com, and click on the Investor Relations link to view and follow the charts. With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Bob. Bob Stevens Thanks, Jerry. Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks again for joining us today. In the third quarter, we continued the positive momentum we've been driving since the beginning of the year. We achieved sales growth of 7%, while growing earnings per share from continuing operations by 30%. We generated over $500 million in cash from operations, utilized our strong cash position to repurchase a record level of 13.4 million shares and made dividend payments of $246 million. Additionally, our Board of Directors approved both an increase of 33% to our quarterly dividend, bringing the full-year dividend payout to $4 a share and an additional share repurchase authorization of $3.5 billion for opportunistic share repurchases. Our sound year-to-date performance has also enabled us to increase our full-year guidance for earnings per share. Since we were last together in July, both the global security environment and world economic conditions have remained volatile. Domestically, the environment remains fluid, driven principally by the ongoing deliberations on potential reductions to federal budget levels. The recently enacted Budget Control Act of 2011 increased the federal government's borrowing limit, while reducing projected government spending over the next 10 years. It also established the bipartisan congressional joint select committee on deficit reduction, sometimes referred to as the super committee with a debt panel, which is charged with recommending legislation by November 23. The enactment of which would result in spending and revenue changes that would reduce net government spending by at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.
If the super committee fails to recommend legislation or the Congress fails to approve that legislation by December 23, or the President fails to sign that legislation into law, then an automatic sequestration process would be triggered, which would make up any shortfall necessary to achieve the $1.2 trillion target. Under the budget act, 50% of any shortfall would automatically be applied as a reduction to the discretionary appropriations for national defense programs and 50% to other domestic programs commencing in 2013.We certainly want this committee to be successful. We understand the urgency of reducing trillion dollar annual budget deficits and our $14 trillion national debt. But we also feel strongly that the defense department is already working on nearly $0.5 trillion in reductions, which is very significant, and that resources for national security should be aligned with our nation's strategy to meet global challenges and not a function of automatic budget triggers. Looking at the current FY '12 DoD budget, Congress passed a continuing resolution that is in effect through November 18. Committees in both the Senate and the House are assessing the President's initial budget request of $553 billion for the base DoD budget and $118 billion for the overseas contingency operations budget. As budget deliberations evolve, we are very focused on the drive for greater efficiency and execution across the corporation. This quarter, we implemented additional staffing reductions in Information Systems & Global Solutions and at corporate headquarters. While these staffing reductions are very painful, they're essential in responding to changing economic conditions and new realities. We know the demand on our customers are great, and they are being asked to do more with less on a daily basis. It's imperative that we respond to this environment as effectively as possible. On the international front, we continue to see a varied picture of markets and regions. In the Middle East and Pacific Rim, we believe interest in our products will likely remain strong in areas like missile defense, fire and cargo aircraft, command and control capabilities, sensors and other systems. The outlook is much more uncertain in the Eurozone with large national debt levels, low economic prospects and high unemployment.
Despite domestic and international pressures, our overall portfolio of products and services is well positioned to provide solutions in support of critical national security missions for our nation and for our allies.Turning to operations. Let me cover some events this quarter, starting with the F-35, where we continue to make solid progress in development and production. On the development program, flight test activities continued ahead of plan. Through September year-to-date, we were 9% ahead on test flights and 10% ahead on test points. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com