NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Lockheed Martin (LMT) continues to be one of the most rewarding stocks for dividend-hungry investors. On a total return basis shares of the world's largest defense contractor are up 17% year-to-date including its 3.10% dividend yield based on a sustainable 53% payout ratio.
One reason Lockheed Martin keeps hitting new 52-week highs involves its prowess at winning defense contracts. A recent lucrative example is a $194 million modification contract for procurement of material, equipment and supplies to develop and test the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin defines itself as a "global security and aerospace company" that employs about 113,000 people worldwide. Last year the company had net sales of $45.4 billion, an amount that will be challenging to equal in 2014.
The company recently raised its 2014 earnings guidance, reflecting lower pension costs and an improved outlook for its space unit. For the quarter ending Sept. 30 I anticipate an increase in EPS of about 9%.
Thanks to the amount of new business Lockheed captured earlier in 2014 I also project that its fourth quarter EPS will be nearly 40% higher than the year-ago quarter. With a final quarter of that magnitude the year-over-year total earnings growth is likely to exceed 17%.