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Lower government spending shrinks Lockheed 4Q profit

Lockheed Martin Corp. said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit dropped 29 percent, as lower government spending reduced revenue at most of its businesses.

The aerospace and defense contractor reported net income of $683 million, or $2.09 per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31. That’s down from $961 million, or $2.67 per share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding discontinued operations, the company posted a profit of $698 million, or $2.14 per share, down from $821 per share, or $2.31 per share.

Revenue fell 4.3 percent to $12.21 billion from $12.76 billion.

The profit easily beat Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of $1.95 per share on $12.3 billion in revenue, according to a FactSet poll.

Aeronautics revenue edged up less than a percent to $3.86 billion, as sales volumes of certain aircraft increased. But sales at Lockheed’s electronics, information systems and space systems businesses all fell, mainly as a result of government spending cuts.

Lockheed said the latest quarter’s earnings were reduced by a pension expense adjustment, a drop in research and development tax credits, premiums on the early extinguishments of debt and expenses related to a facilities consolidation.

For the full fiscal 2012 year, Lockheed earned $2.66 billion, or $7.81 per share, down from $2.88 billion, or $7.81 per share, in 2010. Revenue rose to $46.5 billion from $45.67 billion.

For 2012, Lockheed said it expects its sales to total between $45 billion and $46 billion. Analysts expect $46.2 billion in sales for the year.

On Wall Street, Lockheed Martin stock rose 74 cents, or 0.91 percent, to finish at $82.47.