My buddy's got his eye on a new airplane. We drove out to the airport the other day and headed over to the flight school to speak with their sales rep about a new Cessna Skylane 182, equipped with Garmin's (NASDAQ:GRMN) NAV III G1000 avionics. I thought it was all a bit pricey at $326,000, but the rep said he's basically backordered for the new Cessnas, which he expected would really take off once Europe eventually adopts the NAV III specs. All of which got me wondering how Cessna's parent company, Textron (NYSE:TXT), was performing.

The company announced earnings yesterday, and it looks like there were mostly clear skies in the most recent quarter. Per-share profits from continuing operations grew 45% in the fourth quarter to $1.25, though they were essentially flat when discontinued operations were included. Revenues grew to $2.7 billion, up 14% from a year ago. For the year, profits from continuing operations increased 37% to $516 million, and revenue increased more than 20%. The losses from Textron's discontinued operations knocked overall GAAP net income for the year to a 5.6% loss. Discontinued operations are primarily related to the fastening systems divisions, which the company plans to sell.

In particular, its Cessna division confirmed the airport's sales rep's rosy outlook. Revenues increased nearly 11% for the quarter and climbed more than 40% on the year. Cessna ended up with some $6.3 billion in backlog orders. The Bell division, which makes helicopters for the U.S. military and commercial customers, saw fourth-quarter revenues increase 36%, while profits nearly doubled. Bell's backlog was $2.8 billion, down slightly because of softness in government business -- the company had just completed a large number of V-22 Osprey orders.

While Textron didn't provide a cash flow statement with its earnings release, it did helpfully provide its calculations for free cash flow and return on invested capital. Free cash flow was $546 million for the year, down from $729 million last year. But the important ROIC metric jumped from 10.6% to 13.2% year over year.

The company also boosted its dividend by 10%, to $1.55 per share, and authorized the repurchase of an additional 12 million shares. With a little more than 132 million shares outstanding, the buyback program amounts to just under 10% of the company's float. Textron's stock price soared up more than $7 on the news, reaching a high of almost $84 at yesterday's close.

I'm not sure whether my friend will actually buy that shiny new Cessna, though airport-hopping could be fun. With or without his purchase, though, it looks like Textron has a good tailwind for the coming year.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.