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NEWS IN BRIEF

26 Oct 04. Dassault Systemes reported a rise in third-quarter earnings, although the market was disappointed with its targets for this year and for sales growth next year. The company had forecast sales growth of 11 to 12 per cent at constant exchange rates and a stable operating margin compared with 2004. Third-quarter earnings per share before acquisition costs rose 12 per cent to €28c, topping analysts’ average forecast in a Reuters poll of €27c, and reflecting growth in revenue, operating income and financial revenue. Sales rose to €188m ($237.5m) in the three months to September 30, up from €176.3m a year ago, driven by a 30 per cent jump in service revenue tied to product lifecycle management of its business. In a separate statement, Dassault Systemes and Rand Technology Corp., operating as RAND Worldwide, announced plans to reorganise their strategic European partnership for sales of product lifecycle management projects. Dassault will buy RAND Worldwide’s subsidiaries in Britain, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, plus Rand Technologies CIS Inc,which serves Russia, and raise its stake in RAND North America to 70 per cent from 60 per cent, for a total price of around €32m. Proceeds from the transaction would eliminate RAND Worldwide’s current outstanding debt with Dassault Systemes. (Source: FT)

28 Oct 04. Northrop Grumman will buy back an additional $1bn of its shares, in the latest move by defence contractors to reward investors from growth out of recent large US defence budget increases. After a period of intense consolidation over the past 12 years and now facing questions about future defence budget growth, the big US defence contractors have set out to pay a war dividend to investors. Northrop and Lockheed Martin this week have signalled that keeping shareholders by giving them more value is a priority. Northrop’s move follows Lockheed’s reiteration to investors on Tuesday that it planned to use at least 50 per cent of its free cash generated to repay investors through moves such as dividends and share repurchases. Northrop expects the buy-back programme to take at least one year to complete. Lockheed and Northrop currently pay a 1.8 per cent dividend yield to shareholders.

28 Oct 04. For the third quarter of 2004, EDO Corporation (NYSE: EDO – News) has reported revenue of $129.9m, an increase of $11.1m, or 9.3 percent, (2003: $118.8m). Net earnings for the quarter were $6.9 million, up 23.7 percent,(2003: $5.6m). On a diluted per-share basis, earnings rose 16.7 percent, to $0.35, from $0.30 in the prior year. For the nine-month period ended Sept. 25, 2004, revenue was $367.0m, up $42.1m, or 13.0 percent, (2003: $324.9m. Net earnings for the first nine months of 2004 were $14.9m, or $0.81 per diluted share, (2003: $8.3m or $0.47).

29 Oct 04. Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT – News) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sippican Holdings, Inc, a Massachusetts-based supplier of naval electronics systems, from the global private equity firm The Carlyle Group and management. Headquartered in Marion, Massachusetts, Sippican’s expertise in the development and production of surface ship countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare training and submarine communications systems, as well as meteorological and oceanographic instrumentation, will enhance Lockheed Martin’s global capabilities in naval warfare, unmanned underwater vehicles and low-cost manufacturing.

28 Oct 04. Alliant Techsystems Inc., or ATK, reported that second-quarter earnings fell 18 percent, but the company managed to beat its own estimates due to changes in its restructuring effort and improved operating results. Quarterly earnings for the supplier of advanced weapon and space systems fell to $29.9m, or 78 cents per share, from $36.6m, or 93 cents per share, last year. ATX had predicted earnings of 70 cents per share. Excluding a pension-related settlement charge and a restructuring charge, the company earned 90 cents

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