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WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. arms maker Raytheon Co on Thursday forecast a drop of up to 9 percent in adjusted earnings per share this year as it reported that fourth-quarter earnings per share fell 7 percent on nearly unchanged sales.
Additional U.S. budget cuts could have a big impact on the U.S. military and the defense industry next year, but Raytheon said its international sales and focus on high-priority areas should help mitigate the effect.
Raytheon, which makes Patriot missiles and a vast array of other defense equipment, said adjusted earnings per share were $1.60 in the fourth quarter, down from $1.72 per share in the same quarter of 2011.
In the full year, adjusted EPS rose 6.2 percent to $6.21 from $5.85 in 2011, driven higher mainly by buybacks of 15.9 million shares for $825 million, the company said in its fourth- quarter earnings release.