Lockheed Martin Corp. said it expects to save $200 million a year with a reorganization and job-cutting plan that chairman and chief executive Vance D. Coffman presented to the company's board yesterday.
The Bethesda-based giant, reeling from problems with its finances and some of its aerospace programs, will cut more than 2,800 employees from its worldwide work force of 140,000.
Headquarters of the company's aeronautics businesses will be transferred from Bethesda to its facility in Fort Worth and renamed the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. The full staff of 21 executives and support personnel will move from Maryland to Texas or be reassigned.
Similarly, the headquarters for space will shift to Denver as the newly named Space Systems Co., eliminating a staff of 24 from Bethesda. The plan specifies no other cuts among the 500 to 700 workers at headquarters, though the facility is in the midst of a separate consolidation review.
The cuts are aimed at cleaning out duplicate jobs in administration, engineering, production and material management that were created in combining 20 companies during the 1990s to form the Lockheed Martin colossus. The company is also auctioning off lines of business that had about $1.4 billion in combined sales last year.
"These actions . . . will result in real savings and ensure greater flexibility, allowing us to successfully adapt to changing market conditions, maintain the level of program execution our customers expect, while improving our ability to react to new business opportunities," Coffman said in a statement.
While the layoffs will create short-term costs, Coffman said, they will be offset by savings and won't worsen the company's already wounded financial outlook.
With the company set to release fourth-quarter earnings this morning, Wall Street reacted cautiously to yesterday's announcement. Shares of Lockheed Martin lost 62 1/2 cents yesterday to close at $19.43 3/4.
The plan "is a step in the right direction, but there's a long way to go," said Todd B. Ernst, a financial analyst with Prudential Securities in New York.
While the reorganization might help reduce costs, Ernst said, it does nothing to address how the company will bolster lines of business, such as space systems and military aircraft, that went sour in the past year.
The company's main thrust for new growth has been its attempt to purchase Comsat Corp. and establish a telecommunications services line of business. Federal legislation needed to complete that deal is hung up in a House-Senate conference committee. Lockheed Martin officials said yesterday that their bid to acquire the 51 percent of Comsat they do not yet own could fall through if Congress doesn't clear the legislation before its April recess.
Most of the job cuts announced yesterday will fall on the company's aeronautics side. About 2,500 positions will be eliminated, divided evenly among its primary factories in Fort Worth; Marietta, Ga.; and Palmdale, Calif. Last year the company cut 2,000 jobs in Marietta, where the company builds the F-22 fighter plane and the C-130J military transport plane.
About 300 to 400 jobs will be cut from various facilities on the space side of the company.
Moving the space and aeronautics executives into the field is an attempt to connect them more closely to the actual work of the far-flung corporation.
"These moves reflect a realization that the way Lockheed Martin is organized today has more to do with how it came together than where it's headed," said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington.
The cuts and the effort to move power out of Bethesda are "necessary, if not probably overdue," said Brett Lambert of DFI International, a consulting firm in Washington. "It's not an easy step to take, but it certainly is the right one. . . . The real question is going to be how well they're able to execute the plans."
Having seen Lockheed Martin's stock lose nearly half its value in the past year, investors are going to remain skeptical until they are more confident the company has found its footing, Lambert said.
Chief Financial Officer Robert Stevens, named to that position during a management shake-up and initial reorganization last fall, will help answer that question today when he talks with analysts and unveils the company's fourth-quarter results.
"I'm very interested to see what he has to say . . . with another quarter under his belt," said Ernst, adding that many investors hope Stevens will restore credibility to a company that had to lower its financial outlook three times in the past year.
"It makes me optimistic that they have the new guy in there and that they're taking action," Ernst said.