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Explaining fickle Wall Street response to defense stocks

WASHINGTON — During its third-quarter earnings call Oct. 24, Northrop Grumman announced solid sales numbers, a spike in sector operating profit and a higher operating income.

Yet, after warning of headwinds of as much as $400 million earnings stemming from pension liability, investors on Wall Street “ran for the exits," in the words of market consultant Jim McAleese.

For the full week of Oct. 22, Northrop stock fell 13 percent to about $270 per share — even as Northrop CEO Wes Bush said the company’s “programs continue to be well-supported in the budget, and our portfolio is well-balanced between mature franchise production efforts and the development programs that will ultimately lead to the next generation of production programs.”

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