Martin cuts reliance on Pentagon Defense contractor unveils plans for 'peace dividend.'

March 10, 1992|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Martin Marietta Corp., one of the nation's largest defense contractors, announced yesterday that it has embarked on a "peace dividend strategy" designed to meet the challenges of shrinking Pentagon budgets.

Martin's three-part strategy is outlined by Norman R. Augustine, the company's chairman and chief executive, and A. Thomas Young, president, in their joint message to shareholders in the annual report being mailed this week.

The strategy "reinforces the corporation's vital role in national defense while expanding its non-defense business base and enhancing shareholder value," Mr. Augustine says.

The plan calls for Martin Marietta to:

* Expand market share in the space and electronics industries by making acquisitions. An example would be the company's recent agreement with Lockheed Corp. to form a company to buy the assets of LTV Corp.'s aircraft and missile division.

* Continue expansion into non-defense markets.

* Enhance shareholder value by repurchasing the company's shares.

Martin also announced that it was closing one of the seven plants in Glen Burnie where it manufactures towed arrays, or underwater electronic units used to detect and track submarines. It said the move is designed to cut operating costs.

Martin spokesman Al Kamhi said the consolidation would result in the transfer of about 80 workers from Glen Burnie to Martin's Middle River complex. He said no workers are expected to lose jobs as a result of the move.

Martin has felt the pain of recent military cuts. Its multibillion-dollar ADATS air defense and tank killer weapons were canceled with the Peacekeeper missile and small intercontinental ballistic missile.

In a recent meeting with stock analysts, Martin executives predicted earnings would grow by 5 percent to 7 percent annually over the next 2 to 3 years, Paul H. Nisbet, an analyst with Prudential Securities, said yesterday. "They probably understated things," said Mr. Nisbet, who said earnings likely would grow at a 10 percent annual rate over the period.

As an example of Martin's success in moving into new markets, he noted that its production of automatic mail sorting machines for the U.S. Postal Service will add $160 million in revenues this year.

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