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Northrop Grumman has reported a 33 percent drop in first quarter earnings due to the delay in delivery of the US$1.9bn LHD-8 amphibious assault ship.

Earnings from continuing operations declined to US$263m from US$394m in the first quarter of 2007.

First quarter 2008 earnings were reduced by a pre-tax charge of US$326m, or US$0.61 per diluted share, primarily for cost growth and schedule extension in the company’s LHD-8 amphibious assault ship programme, as announced on 15 April 2008.

Sales for the 2008 first quarter increased six percent to US$7.7bn from US$7.3bn in the same period last year.

Northrop says results are continuing to be affected by damage Hurricane Katrina caused to its Mississippi shipyard in 2005.

The storm displaced experienced workers and poor-quality wiring performed by replacement crews must be redone, which may slow progress on other vessels.

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By GlobalData

Northrop will now deliver the ship in the second quarter of 2009 instead of the end of this year.

The ship delay made Northrop the only one of the five largest US defense companies to report lower profit for the first quarter.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon have all reported first-quarter profit.

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh