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By Mike Stone and Rachit Vats
April 26 (Reuters) - General Dynamics Corp, maker of Gulfstream jets, tanks and U.S. Navy ships, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by increased aircraft deliveries that offset lower demand from the military.
Sales to the U.S. government were slowed by the election and some of the decision-making mechanics of the administration change, CEO Phebe Novakovic said on Wednesday’s conference call with analysts.
Despite that, the company’s aerospace division, its second-biggest, delivered 30 aircraft in the first quarter ended April 2, compared with 28 a year earlier. Large-cabin aircraft deliveries rose to 23 aircraft during the quarter, from 20 a year ago.
The company anticipated 2017 aerospace revenue would increase about 6 percent over last year, and Novakovic “noted sharp increases in activity levels in Europe and improved activity in China.”
Margins of over 20 percent for aerospace also beat expectations, Barclays analyst Carter Copeland said in a note.
Smaller rival Textron Inc last week reaffirmed its aviation unit’s 2017 revenue forecast.
Results were dragged down by lower quarterly revenue from Marine Systems, which makes submarines and surface ships for the U.S Navy, and Information Systems and Technology, which provides combat software solutions and combat-ready computing equipment.
Information Services and Technology (IS&T) suffered because of a “slowdown in the execution” of contract line items on a number of programs due to the election, Novakovic said. IS&T’s quarterly revenue dropped 7.8 percent from the first quarter of 2016.
Marine System’ quarterly revenue declined 8.9 percent from last year. The company is preparing to build Columbia class submarines beginning in 2021.
Despite the soft demand from the U.S. government, the order backlog grew by approximately $1.5 billion to $53.3 billion.
Net income from continuing operations rose 16.7 percent to $763 million, or $2.48 per share, in the first quarter.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected $2.32 per share.
Revenue marginally fell to $7.44 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $7.71 billion.
Margins for the company as a whole improved 1.5 percent over the previous year, but only modestly over last quarter.
General Dynamics shares were up 0.8 percent to $194.82 at midday. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington DC and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Nick Zieminski)