Today, Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT) announced third-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $2.57 per share -- which was an increase of 16% over the $2.21 reported for the third quarter last year. After including earnings from discontinued operations, its total earnings per share were $2.66, an increase of more than 20%.

This all comes despite falling sales for Lockheed Martin -- which were down from $11.9 billion in the third quarter of last year to $11.4 billion in the third quarter of this year, or roughly 4%. However, its cost of sales declined more than the sales themselves, from $10.9 billion to $10.2 billion or 6%, so net earnings rose from $727 million to $873 million.

Lockheed's biggest decline in sales came from its second-largest, but least-profitable, business, its Information Systems & Global Solutions unit, which saw sales fall from $2.3 billion to $2.1 billion as it continued to have a 9.1% operating margin. In total, Lockheed saw its total business operating margins at 12.8%.

Lockheed Martin saw its cash from operations fall from $1.6 billion in the third quarter of last year to $900 million this year thanks in large part to increased pension contributions. In addition, the company repurchased approximately $600 million of its common stock -- bringing its total to $1.5 billion through the first nine months of 2013 compared to $700 million over the same time period in 2012.

"Despite the uncertainty surrounding our industry, our employees remain focused on performing with excellence and delivering affordable and effective solutions for our customers," noted Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson in a statement. "With strong third quarter performance across our business, we were able to increase net earnings, grow our backlog, generate strong cash from operations and return value to our stockholders."

Lockheed said it expects full-year earnings between $9.40 and $9.70 per share, up from its previous forecast of $9.20 to $9.50 per share.


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