Lockheed Martin Corp. will cut up to 2,000 jobs at its Marietta, Ga., airplane manufacturing plant, the Bethesda-based company announced yesterday.
Tom Burbage, president of Lockheed's aeronautical systems division, said the job cuts result from the company's decision to reduce its overhead, not from any plans to curtail production of any particular aircraft. The two major products manufactured at the Marietta plant are the C-130J military cargo plane and the F-22 stealth fighter jet.
"We must continue to reduce our costs to make the C-130J more affordable domestically and internationally and to meet the commitment we've made to the U.S. Air Force to carry out F-22 development and production within the established budget," Burbage said in a statement.
The 2,000 jobs in Georgia amount to more than 20 percent of that plant's work force; worldwide, Lockheed employs 165,000 people. The company said that about 40 percent of the Marietta job cuts will come from early retirement, attrition or transfers rather than layoffs.
Lockheed's stock closed at $40.50 yesterday, down $1, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Slow delivery of the C-130J pulled down Lockheed's earnings last year, and higher-than-anticipated costs contributed to the company's $87 million loss in this year's first quarter.
In recent weeks, Lockheed has struggled with problems in its rocket and satellite businesses because of a string of launch failures that prompted the government to establish a review panel. Because of concerns about those rocket problems, some analysts have reduced their projections for Lockheed's earnings in the second quarter, which ends June 30.
Company spokesman Sam Grizzle said the company has not placed a dollar figure on what it hopes to save from the newly announced job cuts. He also said that any savings that come from those cuts will show up in long-term results rather than in a specific quarter.
Pierre Chao, an analyst with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., said the way the cuts are being made "tells you that this is staying ahead of the curve, rather than `Oh, my God, we've got a problem.' "
He said, "Lockheed these days remains extremely sensitive to the issue of cost, not only from the perspective of shareholders, but also customers."