Lockheed Martin [LMT] on Tuesday posted strong fourth quarter financial results driven by top and bottom-line gains across its operating segments, topping a banner year for the nation’s largest defense company.
Net income in the quarter soared 20 percent to $1.8 billion, $6.38 earnings per share (EPS), from $1.5 billion ($5.29 EPS) a year ago, two pennies shy of consensus expectations. Operating margins at the business segment level were 11 percent, up 70 basis points from a year ago.
Sales in the quarter increased 7 percent to $17 billion from $15.9 billion a year ago.
For all of 2020, net income rose nearly 10 percent to a record $6.8 billion ($24.50 EPS) from $6.2 billion ($21.95 EPS) in 2019, and sales increased 9 percent to a record $65.4 billion from $59.8 billion.
The outlook for 2021 is moderated, with per share earnings expected to be up 8 percent at the mid-point of the guidance range, which is between $26 to $26.30. Sales are forecast to be 4 percent higher at the mid-point of guidance, which stands between $67.1 billion and $68.5 billion. The outlook doesn’t include Lockheed Martin’s pending acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, which is expected to close in the second half of this year.
Work on hypersonic programs accounted for $1.2 billion in sales in 2020 and is expected to grow to about $1.5 billion this year, Ken Possenriede, Lockheed Martin’s chief financial officer, said on the company’s earnings call. By the mid-2020s, as some of these programs enter low-rate and full-rate production, hypersonic sales could reach $3 billion, he said, adding that the shift to production will also benefit margins.
At the operating level, Lockheed Martin attributed growth across the portfolio to a number of programs including F-16 fighter international sustainment and production, classified work in the Aeronautics segment, F-35 sustainment and development, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 air and missile defense programs, helicopters, integrated warfare systems, undersea combat systems, the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared and classified government satellite programs, and hypersonic systems.
James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s president and CEO, said during the earnings call that he expects the Biden administration to maintain strong support for international defense sales by U.S. companies. Taiclet said his outlook here is based on the new administration’s commitment to the important of alliances and partners in national defense and the fact that these sales also support U.S. jobs.
As for the outlook on the U.S. defense budget, he pointed out that the Biden administration “hasn’t unveiled its actual plan or trajectory for defense budgets” but highlighted that the president’s national security officials are experienced professionals, which will likely mean “a lot of continuity in policy and also in focus on how important a strong defense is for this country.” He also pointed out that the external threat is “growing” and “accelerating.”
Free cash flow in 2020 was $6.4 billion and the company expects to grow operating cash through at least 2023. Backlog at the end of 2020 stood at $147.1 billion, up 2 percent from $144 billion a year ago.