5-6 pct@ (Adds sales forecast, analyst estimate, backlog info, stock action)
Oct 23 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon's No. 1 weapons supplier, reported a 17 percent rise in quarterly profit on Tuesday, driven by increased production of its F-35 fighter jets.
The company sharpened its outlook for 2018 net sales to $53 billion, slightly above the average analyst estimate of $52.6 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
Lockheed predicted 2019 sales would increase by 5 percent to 6 percent from 2018 as the company assumes "key programs" like the F-35 fighter jet, designed to avoid detection, will continue to be funded by the U.S. government.
The 2019 sales outlook would put sales within a range of $55.6 billion to $56.2 billion, slightly ahead of the average Wall Street estimate of $55.4 billion.
Net income rose to $1.47 billion, or $5.14 per share, in the third quarter, from $963 million, or $3.32 per share, a year earlier. Net sales rose to $14.31 billion from $12.34 billion a year earlier.
Analysts expected adjusted profit of $4.31 per share on revenue of $13.07 billion, according to Refinitiv estimates. Lockheed's EPS was $5.14.
Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson described it as "another quarter of strong growth leading us to improve our expectations for our full-year financial results."
The Bethesda, Maryland-based company said its order backlog increased to $109 billion at the end of the quarter from $105 billion three months ago.
Lockheed shares fell nearly 1 percent to $323.76 as the broader market tumbled. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, DC; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)