Northrop Grumman projects stable year for shipbuilding business

Northrop Grumman Corp., whose Newport News shipyard is Virginia’s largest industrial employer, projects a stable year ahead for its shipbuilding business and expects to continue hiring workers.

“Shipbuilding is moving in the right direction,” said Ron Sugar, chairman and chief executive of the Los Angeles-based defense conglomerate.

Sugar was upbeat about shipbuilding during a conference call Thursday with analysts about the company’s fourth-quarter and 2007 results.