The beginning of a major downturn is not the best time to launch a new company. But the executives who run ITT Exelis didn't have much choice. The 20,000-employee defense and information technology operation was spun off last October as part of a breakup of multi-industry ITT Corp. designed to appease restless shareholders. And Exelis, which draws nearly 70% of its sales from defense, clearly was not the piece of ITT that investors saw as a growth play. McLean, Va.-based Exelis is a ...

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