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Lockheed Martin has reported a 4% increase in net sales to $16.3bn during the first quarter of 2021 when compared to $15.7bn in the same period a year earlier.

The company’s net earnings in the quarter were $1.8bn, or $6.56 per share, compared to $1.7bn, or $6.08 per share, last year.

This increase was driven by volume and includes $0.18 of a gain from investments in the company’s ventures fund, which was partially offset by $0.10 in severance charges from efficiency improvement and total cost reduction actions announced earlier.

In the quarter, the company maintained its backlog of $147bn, executed $1bn accelerated share repurchase programme, returning $1.7bn to its stockholders, including quarterly dividend payments.

Lockheed Martin chairman, president and chief executive officer James Taiclet said segment operating profit was $1.7bn, up due to positive sales performance.

The company has four business areas, namely aeronautics, missiles and fire control, rotary and mission systems, and space.

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Rotary and mission systems sales grew 10% to $4.1bn due to an international pilot training system delivery and increase in Sikorsky aircraft production.

Missiles and fire control sales rose 5% to $2.75bn while aeronautics sales were flat in the quarter.

Net space sales in the first quarter were $3bn, a 3% increase compared to the previous year’s period.

The company has increased its 2021 full-year financial outlook for sales, segment operating profit, earnings per share and cash from operations.

Taiclet said: “Lockheed Martin continues to deliver vital next-generation technologies that will help keep our nation and its allies safe, and advance space exploration while providing long-term value for the US taxpayers and our shareholders.

“Our strong financial results position us to continue advancing 21st-century innovations that will deter the threats of the future while remaining a trusted partner for customers who depend on our existing platforms and services today.

“The men and women of Lockheed Martin have managed the challenges of Covid-19 to maintain operations safely. As we look ahead to a new and better normal, our workforce is focused on growth, ready to strengthen our foundation well into the future.”