Northrop Grumman Posts Strong Q2, Led by Space System Sales

Northrop Grumman headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. Photo: Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. Photo: Northrop Grumman.

Bolstered by generally solid results across its operating segments, Northrop Grumman on Thursday reported higher sales and earnings in its Second Quarter (Q2) and the company raised its outlook for the top and bottom lines for 2020.

Net income rose 17% to $1 billion, $6.01 earnings per share (EPS), from $861 million ($5.06 EPS) a year ago, smashing consensus estimates by 69 cents per share. The company attributed the higher earnings to a pension benefit, segment performance, and favorable returns on marketable securities, partially offset by a higher tax rate.

Sales increased 5% to $8.9 billion from $8.5 billion a year ago.

Sales increased in three of the company’s four sectors led by a solid-double digit percentage increase at Space Systems followed by Aeronautics Systems and Mission Systems. The top-line was boosted by a number of programs including classified, Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Radar, Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission, hypersonics and launch vehicles, classified manned aircraft, the E-2D and Triton aircraft, airborne radar programs, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile, and classified mission readiness programs.

Space Systems is Northrop Grumman’s fastest growing segment and is expected to remain so in 2021 and beyond based on work in backlog and future opportunities, Kathy Warden, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said on an earnings call with analysts. The segment garnered $9.2 billion in orders during the quarter, including a $5.9 billion classified award that she said is “quite significant” and a “long-term program.”

All four sectors posted increases in operating income led again by Space Systems on higher sales, the benefit of a favorable resolution on a government accounting matter in Aeronautics, and improved performance in mission readiness.

After lowering its sales and adjusted earnings forecast following the first quarter due to the COVID-19 virus, Northrop Grumman increased its guidance for the rest of the year based on first half results and believing the worst of the pandemic is behind it.

Sales are now forecast to be between $35.3 billion and $35.6 billion, up from the first quarter forecast of $35 billion to $35.4 billion, due to better than expected revenue in the Aeronautics Systems segment in the second quarter. The bottom end of the new outlook is in line with projections made in January and the top end is $200 million below the original guidance.

During the earnings call, one analyst asked Warden why she didn’t sign a letter earlier this month with other defense industry executives asking Congress for financial relief to reimburse companies for unanticipated costs stemming from COVID-19. She replied that the impacts on the company from the pandemic have been less than it expected and less “than projected elsewhere” due to a continued focus on providing for a safe work environment, ensuring suppliers have what they need, and working with customers “to be innovative in how we continue to get work done.”

Northrop Grumman is focused on “Making these impacts as small as possible so that we are not in a position where we have an additional bill for taxpayers to get capability delivered,” she said.

During the quarter, COVID-19 did suppress sales on the company’s work on the F-35 fighter program in its Aeronautics segment.

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