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General Dynamics Profit Climbs on Information Systems

General Dynamics Corp., the maker of Abrams battle tanks and Gulfstream business jets, said first-quarter profit rose 1.2 percent on sales of computer-systems services.

Net income climbed to $597 million, or $1.53 a share, from $590 million, or $1.53, a year earlier, the Falls Church, Virginia-based company said today in a statement. Earnings excluding some items were $1.54 a share. The average estimate of 18 analysts in a Bloomberg survey was $1.52. Sales dropped 6.2 percent to $7.75 billion.

Chief Executive Officer Jay Johnson has projected 2010 will be the “start of an attractive growth trajectory” in the Gulfstream business-jet unit after the company cut production and costs in 2009. In the defense segment, General Dynamics anticipates selling more Stryker armored vehicles as well as winning orders to overhaul equipment returning from Iraq.

“General Dynamics is a company which we see as increasingly attractive,” Douglas Harned, a New York-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., wrote in an April 16 note to clients. He has a “market perform” rating on the stock.

General Dynamics fell $2.11, or 2.7 percent, to $76.56 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares gained 12 percent this year through yesterday.

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