Boeing reported third-quarter profits Wednesday that were better than analysts had expected because of sharp increases in aircraft deliveries. It also raised its earnings forecast for 2012 for the third time.
The Chicago-based company increased deliveries of both commercial and military airplanes, with the biggest revenue gains coming from the growing demand for new passenger planes.
But its military business also held up well, and other large military contractors reported solid results despite a push to tighten defense budgets.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which are both mainly military companies, also beat analyst expectations Wednesday in reporting third-quarter profits.
Overall, Boeing’s third-quarter sales increased by 13 percent to $20 billion from $17.7 billion a year earlier. Its net income dropped, as expected, because of higher pension expenses but still exceeded analyst expectations.
Third-quarter net income totaled $1.03 billion, or $1.35 a share. That was 6 percent less than the $1.1 billion, or $1.46 a share, that Boeing reported a year earlier.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected $1.12 a share.
Boeing said growing sales of its older 737 and 777 commercial models, as well as increasing deliveries of the new 787 and 747-8 jets, should help it earn $4.80 to $4.95 a share for all of 2012. It previously had forecast earnings of $4.40 to $4.60 a share for 2012.
Boeing’s shares rose 1.6 percent to about $74 a share in early trading after its earnings report.
Lockheed, the largest military contractor, said its net earnings from continuing operations increased in the third quarter to $727 million, or $2.21 a share, from $665 million, or $1.99 a share, a year earlier. Its sales were $11.9 billion compared with $12.1 billion a year earlier.
Lockheed said it expected its sales to decline at a low single digit rate in 2013. But it also expects its profit margins to remain above 11 percent as long as Congress can stave off sequestration, the plan to force large automatic spending cuts at the Pentagon. Both President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, have promised that they would stop the cuts if they win the November election.
Boeing and Lockheed said they have increased military sales overseas to offset some of the reductions at the Pentagon.