Lockheed Martin beats estimates, raises sales forecast on higher F-35 deliveries

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[January 28, 2020]  (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp <LMT.N> reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday and forecast 2020 revenue above analysts' estimates, as the Pentagon's No.1 weapons supplier benefited from heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

A sign at the new Lockheed Martin Manufacturing Centre of Excellence is seen at the company's headquarters in Ampthill near Bedford, Britain June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

Shares of Lockheed rose 2.5% in premarket trading, after the company said it delivered 134 F-35 fighter jets to the United States and its allies in 2019, a 47% increase from a year earlier.

Defense contractors General Dynamics <GD.N>, Lockheed and Northrop Grumman Corp <NOC.N> are expected to outperform this year, in line with the sector's general pattern during presidential election years.

U.S.-Iran tensions over the past few months have also helped build momentum for defense purchases, benefiting Lockheed and other weapons makers, analysts have said.

The company raised its 2020 revenue outlook to a range of $62.75 billion to $64.25 billion, beating analysts' estimate of about $62.61 billion.

Lockheed said it expects full-year earnings per share to be in the range of $23.65 per share to $23.95 per share, below analysts' expectation of $24.30 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net earnings rose to $1.5 billion, or $5.29 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $1.25 billion, or $4.39 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected the company to post a profit of $5.03 per share.

Net sales rose 10.2% to $15.88 billion, below analysts' expectation of $15.29 billion.

(Reporting by Ashwini Raj in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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