Alliant Techsystems Inc. said Thursday it's continuing to adjust to a future with less NASA and military-related business while taking steps to shore up profits from products it sells to non-military customers.

The defense and aerospace company reported lower earnings for its fourth quarter and fiscal year, citing reduced NASA-related and advanced weapon sales, a shift by consumers to less expensive products and higher raw material costs.

Fourth-quarter profit was $61.4 million, or $1.86 a share, compared with $71.1 million, or $2.10 a share, in the prior-year quarter. Analysts had estimated sales of $1.26 billion and earnings of $1.69 a share for the quarter.

In a conference call, company officials said that in the coming year they expect to begin seeing some benefits from steps to improve profitability. In the last several months, the company has compressed its corporate structure and trimmed its workforce.

It also will raise prices next month on ammunition for non-military customers in an effort to combat higher raw material costs and a shift by consumers to lower-margin products.

Apparel in the mix

CEO Mark DeYoung said the commercial products segment also will ramp up sales of accessories, including apparel, which carry higher margins than ammunition.

Alliant's full-year results were in line with previous forecasts while fourth-quarter earnings and sales topped analysts' estimates.

Sales for the quarter ended March 31 totaled $1.32 billion, up 1 percent. Higher sales of commercial ammunition and defense electronics systems contributed to the increase, offsetting lower sales in the aerospace systems and armament systems groups.

For the year, the company reported sales of $4.6 billion, down 5 percent. Earnings fell 16 percent to $263 million, compared with $313 million in the prior year. Full-year earnings-per-share were $7.93, compared with $9.32 in the prior year. Adjusted earnings-per-share increased to $8.78 from $8.65.

Alliant reaffirmed its sales and earnings guidance for fiscal 2013, saying it expects sales of $4 to $4.1 billion and earnings-per-share of $6.25 to $6.55.

Alliant shares, which have fallen about 24 percent in the last 12 months, rose about 2 percent Thursday to $54.19. "Expectations were low, which allowed [Alliant] to beat estimates," said Rama Bondada, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in a research note.

The company moved its headquarters from Eden Prairie to Arlington, Va., last year but still maintains significant operations in the Twin Cities.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723