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July 18 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon's No. 1 weapons supplier, on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by higher sales of its F-35 fighter jets, and nudged its full-year profit forecast higher.
U.S. demand for F-35 jets has recently increased. The Pentagon announced on July 10 that it would add 13 jets to its planned purchase of F-35s, but a delivery schedule was not released.
Net income rose nearly 5 percent to $942 million, or $3.23 per share, in the quarter. Net sales rose to $12.69 billion from $11.58 billion a year ago. Analysts expected $3.11 per share on revenue of $12.40 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Lockheed raised its 2017 profit forecast to $12.30 to $12.60 per share, up from its forecast of $12.15 to $12.45 last quarter, but only 5 cents higher than the outlook it gave in January.
The company also raised its 2017 sales forecast to $49.80 billion to $51.00 billion, from $49.50 billion to $50.70 billion.
The stock rose 0.6 percent to $290.28 on Tuesday and set a new high of $292.54 earlier in the session.
U.S. President Donald Trump promised during his campaign to spend more on defense, buoying defense companies' stock prices. Lockheed shares have gained about 15 percent this year through Monday's close.
Lockheed said sales at aeronautics, its largest segment, which makes the F-35 fighter jet and C-130 planes, rose 19.4 percent during the quarter.
The U.S. Department of Defense said on July 10 it plans to purchase 2,456 F-35 jets, up from 2,443. The price of the F-35 varies, but the 13 additional jets will all be the B-model, capable of short take-offs and vertical landings and used by the Marine Corps and the British Navy, and currently cost more than $120 million each.
The program, as it is currently outlined, would deliver the final jets in fiscal 2044 and have a total cost of more than a trillion dollars over the life of the program.
The F-35 program is the Pentagon's costliest arms program and has been criticized by Trump and other U.S. officials for being too expensive.
The company said its effective tax rate increased by 3 percent to 28.8 percent from 25.7 percent at the end of the first quarter.
Last quarter the Bethesda, Maryland-based weapons maker cut its earnings-per-share estimates for the first time in seven years following a one-time charge of 39 cents per share. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Jeffrey Benkoe)