General Dynamics Corp. yesterday reported 24 percent higher profit in the second quarter, led by its information technology unit and improved performance in its shipbuilding and aerospace businesses.

During the second quarter, the Falls Church firm reported profit of $300 million ($1.51 per share), up from $242 million ($1.23) in the second quarter of 2003. Revenue increased 21 percent, to $4.7 billion.

The company's stock price fell 10 cents yesterday to close at $97.55.

"I feel very good about the quarter, I like where we are" so far this year, Nicholas D. Chabraja, chairman and chief executive, said in a conference call with analysts and reporters.

The company increased its earnings forecast for the year to $5.85 a share, from $5.70 to $5.75 a share.

"I think people were disappointed" the company didn't raise its forecast higher, said Troy J. Lahr, a defense analyst with investment bank Legg Mason Inc. Most analysts already had predicted earnings in the range forecast by the company yesterday, said Lahr, who raised his forecast to $5.92 a share.

The company's information technology unit continued to drive growth with a 48.6 percent jump in revenue, to $1.7 billion. The unit's operating income rose 38.3 percent, to $195 million. The information technology operations were helped by last year's acquisition of Veridian Corp., which provides network security to the Pentagon and intelligence agencies.

The shipbuilding unit, which has been struggling with a large commercial tanker contract, reported a 19.7 percent increase in revenue, to $1.2 billion. Operating earnings increased 26.6 percent, to $81 million.

The aerospace unit, which makes the Gulfstream business jet, increased operating earnings 108.9 percent, to $94 million. Sales were up 7.8 percent, to $771 million. Company officials attributed the improvement to efficiency in the production process and better prices for used aircraft.

"I think we have seen the bottom of the business jet market," Lahr said.

General Dynamics, based in Falls Church, reported a strong second quarter and raised its earnings forecast for the year.