Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) Q1 2015 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

Apr 29, 2015 • 12:00 pm ET

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Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) Q1 2015 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

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Presentation
Operator
operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Northrop Grumman's First Quarter 2015 Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded. My name is Kaitlin and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions)

I would now like to turn the call over to your host, Mr. Steve Movius, Treasurer and Vice President, Investor Relations. Mr. Movius, please proceed.

Executive
Stephen Movius

Thanks, Kaitlin, and welcome to Northrop Grumman's first quarter 2015 conference call. (Forward-Looking Cautionary Statements)

We will be posting updated company and sector overviews that provide supplemental information on Northrop Grumman and our four sectors. You can access our updated company overview and the sector overviews on our Investor Relations webpage.

On the call today are Wes Bush, our Chairman, CEO and President; and Ken Bedingfield, our CFO. At this time, I'd like to turn the call over to Wes.

Executive
Wes Bush

Thanks, Steve. Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining us. We're off to a good start in 2015. Our team generated solid operating results and I want to thank our employees for their continued focus on execution.

We generated earnings per share of $2.41 comparable to last year after adjusting for the $0.23 non-recurring tax benefit in the first quarter of 2014. These results reflect solid operational performance and the effectiveness of our cash deployment strategy. Sales rose 2% and reflect higher revenue at Aerospace, Electronic Systems and Technical Services.

During the quarter, growth on existing and new domestic programs and double-digit international sales growth more than offset declines in mature production programs like the F/A-18. Sales for the quarter also benefited from a few more working days in this year's first quarter.

In the first quarter, we repurchased 5.3 million shares for $859 million. In total, we distributed nearly $1 billion to shareholders this quarter through share repurchases and dividends. As of March 31, we've repurchased 47.5 million shares or nearly 80% toward our goal of retiring 60 million shares by the end of this year, market conditions permitting.

Before our $500 million pension contribution, cash from operations was a use of $329 million, an improvement over last year's first quarter. After capital spending of $117 million, our pension-adjusted free cash flow was a use of $446 million. The first quarter is typically our lowest in terms of cash generation. We continue to expect healthy cash for the year, and we are maintaining our full-year guidance for cash from operations and free cash flow.

Total backlog increased to $38.4 billion, a modest increase from year-end and a 6% increase from total backlog at the end of last year's first quarter. Net new awards totaled $6.1 billion, and we had a solid 1.03 book-to-bill for the quarter. Electronic Systems had a book-to-bill of 1.17 and Technical Services had a book-to-bill of 1.90.

You'll recall that on last quarter's call, we mentioned a large international award that Technical Services booked at the beginning of the year. Electronic Systems received an award to supply our