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A Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter stands on the tarmac at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon airport in Melbourne in this March 2009 file photo.

Australian Department of Defence/Reuters/Australian Department of Defence/Reuters

Lockheed Martin Corp., the Pentagon's biggest supplier, said on Thursday that it expected higher earnings this year despite weakening sales, citing a record backlog and continued efforts to cut costs.

Lockheed, which builds everything from F-35 fighter jets, national security satellites to new coastal warships, said earnings per share had dropped 19 per cent to $1.73 (U.S.) in the fourth quarter from $2.14 a year earlier, reflecting a large noncash pension adjustment, higher income tax expenses and a special charge for job cuts in its aeronautics division.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected fourth-quarter earnings of $1.82 a share.

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Lockheed said it expected earnings per share to rise to between $8.80 and $9.10 in 2013, noting that its outlook assumed that the U.S. Congress would avert $500-billion in additional Pentagon spending reductions known as "sequestration" that are due to take effect over the next decade, starting in March.

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