Defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) continues to be a force in its market. Yesterday, as part of a presentation at a conference held by CIBC World Markets, Northrop CFO James Palmer reaffirmed the company's expectations for full-year earnings in the range of $4.90 to $5.05 per share. The company said it also continues to expect sales of $31.5 billion, a 5% increase over its 2006 number.

Shares of Northrop continue to rise at a steady pace. The stock is up 13% over the past 52 weeks and has appreciated 44% over the past two years. The company's quarterly dividend, which has been paid out consistently since the early '80s, has also grown. It's now 42% greater than it was two years ago and gives common shares a 1.9% yield.

Even management has taken action on the value it sees in its own shares. The company repurchased approximately 2% of its own shares at the end of July as part of an accelerated repurchase agreement. Northrop is able to exude this confidence, given that it has demonstrated a proven track record of winning new work. Yesterday also brought the announcement that the company landed a $331 million contract to provide training exercises and support for the U.S. Army, as well as a portion of a five-year counter-narcotics deal that has the potential to be worth up to $15 billion.

The whole lot of defense contractors has been producing consistent results; Honeywell International (NYSE:HON), Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), and Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick Orbital Sciences (NYSE:ORB) are each up more than 20% year to date. Going forward, there has been little in the way in terms of signs of a slowdown in spending on defense. So for Fools seeking steady gains without major volatility, these stocks present sound alternatives.

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