No doubt about it: Mr. Market is in one foul mood this year. No sooner had I penned my earnings piece on FLIR Systems (NASDAQ:FLIR) this morning -- noting the 7% haircut the stock took after reporting a raft of good news -- than I moved on to FLIR competitor L-3 Communications (NYSE:LLL), and its earnings report.

Second verse, same as the first
If I were a suspicious high-school English comp teacher, I might have suspected these two students of cribbing answers from one another, because the one report tracked the other in almost every respect. Sales and earnings? Both exceeded analyst expectations. L-3's revenues rose 9% to around $3.7 billion, and its operating margins for the quarter expanded ever so slightly to 10.5% (excluding items). The company still trails rivals like Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), Honeywell (NYSE:HON), and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), but at least it's moving in the right direction, and I'm betting the recent purchase of EOS from Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) isn't hurting. Per-share profits soared 50% to $2.24, in part because of "one-time items" -- despite that, these profits still would have been up 12% without the bonus score.

Most important of all -- and here's where L-3 broke ranks with FLIR -- its operating cash hit a lofty $535 million in the second quarter. Back out capital expenditures, and the firm still cleared more than half a billion for the quarter, and brought its free cash flow number for the year to date up to $552 million.

Valuation-wise, that now puts L-3 at a pretty attractive level, from this Fool's point of view. Trailing-12-month free cash flow now sits just north of $1.1 billion. Weighed against the firm's $11.5 billion market cap, therefore, the stock is selling for just a hair over 10 times its trailing free cash flow -- not bad at all for a company that most analysts believe will keep on growing at about 11% per year over the next five years.

But will it?
Grow, that is? Chances look pretty good to me. You see, funded orders in the second quarter increased 23% in comparison to last year's second quarter -- that's just ahead of sales growth, and suggests that a modest acceleration in sales and profits lies ahead for L-3. Funded backlog looks strong also at $11 billion, up 17% from the $9.4 billion in work awaiting completion that L-3 had this time, last year.

That may not match the blistering pace in backlog growth at, say, General Dynamics (NYSE:GD). But it should be plenty good enough to keep L-3 on the growth path for some time to come.

Get the low, low, lowdown on L-3 in:

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.