Jan 29, 2018 • 10:00 am ET

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Operator
operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Lockheed Martin Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 Earnings Results Conference Call. (Operator Instructions). As a reminder, today's call is being recorded.

I'll turn the conference now to Mr. Greg Gardner, VP of IR. Please go ahead, sir.

Executive
Greg Gardner

Thank you, John, and good morning. I'd like to welcome everyone to our Fourth Quarter 2017 Earnings Conference Call. Joining me today on the call are Marillyn Hewson, our Chairman, President and CEO; and Bruce Tanner, our EVP and CFO. (Forward-Looking Cautionary Statements). We have posted charts on our website today that we plan to address during the call to supplement our comments. Please access our website at www.lockheedmartin.com, and click on the investor relations link to view and follow the charts.

With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Marillyn.

Executive
Marillyn Hewson

Thanks, Greg. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us on the call today, and I hope you've all had a good start to the new year. Let me begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to the entire Lockheed Martin team for their contributions and commitment throughout 2017. It was through their dedication and efforts that we were able to deliver strong financial results for our stockholders and outstanding operational performance for our customers. Thanks to their focus on mission success, we are well positioned for long-term growth, and I am excited by the prospects the future holds.

2017 was an exceptional year of achievement with strong operational results and new historical high watermarks for sales, orders and cash from operations. We were pleased to see our 2017 sales eclipse $51 billion, representing growth of 8% over our 2016 results.

Our 2017 growth was broad-based with each of our four business areas exceeding last year's results. Leading this increase was our Aeronautics business area fueled by 18% growth in the F-35 program, followed by our Missiles and Fire Control business area exceeding 2016 sales by 9% driven by both tactical missiles and air and missile defense products. We ended 2017 with approximately $100 billion in backlog, the result of our record orders and strong yearly book-to-bill ratio, which have the corporation well positioned for continued growth.

I'd also like to highlight our performance in driving cash from operations as we generated $1.5 billion in cash during the fourth quarter and $6.5 billion for the year. These results allow us to continue our balanced cash deployment strategy as we returned over $4 billion to stockholders through a combination of our commitment to dividends and our share repurchase program. The corporation also funded a record level of investment in independent research and development and capital expenditures, developing new technologies and positioning the business for future growth.

As we noted in today's earnings release, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted in the fourth quarter of 2017 and will provide long-term benefits for the corporation. In the short term, it did result in a onetime non-cash increase