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L3 Technologies (LLL) Tops Q3 Earnings, Raises '17 EPS View

Defense contractor, L3 Technologies, Inc. LLL, posted third-quarter 2017 earnings of $1.96 per share from continuing operations, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.94 by 1%. Earnings also improved 4.3% from the year-ago figure of $1.88.

The company reported earnings of 29 cents per share excluding a previously disclosed goodwill impairment charge of $1.67 per diluted share for Vertex Aerospace.

Total Revenue

Total revenue of $2.65 billion in the quarter missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.69 billion by 1.6%. However, the top line was up 5.6% year over year.

Organic sales to the U.S. government increased 4%, while that to international and commercial customers improved 3%. Overall, organic sales increased 4% in the quarter.

Orders & Margin

Funded orders in the reported quarter were $3.1 billion, reflecting a 16% year-over-year rise. Funded backlog was $9 billion as of Sep 30, up 1% from $8.51 billion as of Jun 30, 2017.

Operating margin contracted 620 basis points (bps) to 2.4% in the quarter.

Segmental Performance

Electronic Systems: Net sales at the segment increased approximately 13% to $715 million from the prior-year figure of $635 million, mainly on account of significant organic sales growth.

Operating income was $103 million compared with the year-ago figure of $88 million, while operating margin expanded 50 bps to 14.4%.

Aerospace Systems: The segment recorded net sales of $1,025 million in the reported quarter, up approximately 1%. The upside was driven by higher sales at Vertex Aerospace.

While operating income increased to $57 million from $56 million, operating margin expanded 10 bps to 5.6%.

Communication Systems: Net sales at the segment improved about 7% to $540 million, primarily owing to increased volume and deliveries of secure networked communication systems to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

While operating income improved roughly 5% to $42 million, operating margin contracted 10 bps to 7.8%.

Sensor Systems: Net sales at the segment grew around 3% to $366 million, primarily buoyed by organic sales growth.

Operating income rose around 55% to $48 million and operating margin expanded 430 bps to 13.1%.

Financial Position

As of Sep 30, L3 Technologies had $439 million in cash and cash equivalents compared with $363 million as of Dec 31, 2016.

Long-term debt as of Sep 30 was $3,329 million compared with $3,325 million as of Dec 31, 2016.

Net cash from operating activities was $667 million at the end of the quarter, up 13.8% from the year-ago figure. Capital expenditure totaled $154 million compared with $126 million in the prior year.

2017 Guidance

L3 Technologies has raised its 2017 outlook again. The company now expects earnings in the range of $8.80−$8.90 per share (versus the prior range of $8.65−$8.85). Revenues guidance was reiterated at $10,800−$11,000 million.

The company also reaffirmed its expectation of cash from operations of around $1,030 million and resultant free cash flow of $875 million.

Zacks Rank

L3 Technologies carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Peer Earnings Releases

Lockheed Martin Corp. LMT reported third-quarter 2017 earnings from continuing operations of $3.24 per share, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.25 by 0.3%. Earnings also declined from the year-ago period’s bottom-line figure by 10.2%. The company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Textron Inc. TXT reported third-quarter 2017 adjusted earnings from continuing operations of 65 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 62 cents by 4.8%. Adjusted earnings were up 6.6% from 61 cents in the year-ago quarter. The company carries a Zacks Rank #4.

Northrop Grumman Corp. NOC reported third-quarter 2017 earnings of $3.68 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.92 by 26%. Reported earnings were also up 9.9% from $3.35 recorded in the year-ago quarter. The company sports a Zacks Rank #1.

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