Two of the major defense companies have brand new CEOs, and both are women: Marilyn Hewson at Lockheed and Phebe Novakovic at General Dynamics. (Read More: Is the Defense Industry Becoming a Girls' Club?)
Lockheed's Hewson has said the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a personal priority for her, and much of the earnings call may focus on a Pentagon report signaling problems with the expensive program. The report claims the jet missed several test objectives in 2012, and reports claim engineers are concerned the fuel tank on one variant, the F-35B, could explode if struck by lightning. (Read More:
Lockheed Struggling to Deliver F-35 Jet
Still, Goldman Sachs has high expectations for Lockheed Martin, predicting the company will give higher than anticipated guidance for 2013. It's also estimating that fourth quarter EPS will come in at $1.96/share, 18 cents higher than consensus.
What about the threat of sequestration and the extra $500 billion in cuts which could hit the Pentagon unless a deficit solution is reached by March 1? Analysts said sequestration would only affect future contracts, unless the government wants to pay the penalty of breaking existing agreements. That puts the real cause for concern regarding earnings at least a year out.
"Investors look, I think, primarily at two things with defense companies right now," said Citi's Jason Gursky. "One is cash deployment. and we want to make sure that we're targeting that 8 to 12 percent cash deployment through dividends and share repurchases. And then bookings, because bookings are going to tell us what future revenue streams are going to look like ... I think on both of those fronts we've got really nice things to say about both Raytheon and Lockheed at this point."
(Read More: The 10 Biggest U.S. Government Contractors.)
—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells