Every day we see it, the violence and fighting, especially in the Middle East, going on unabated, and with Iran being removed from prior sanctions and restrictions, there is another component to continue stirring up the proverbial pot. Toss in a much more aggressive Russia and China, and top the whole thing off with North Korea spouting very belligerent rhetoric, and the whole hot mess gets even uglier.
One thing is for sure, almost regardless of who wins the presidential election, there is going to be a push to rebuild and resupply the military, and the big defense contractors should fare very well in 2017 and beyond. We screened the Merrill Lynch research universe for defense stocks that were rated Buy that also pay big dividends. Four look very good now.
This company, like other major defense prime contractors, had a very solid year and also makes the best ideas list for the fourth quarter, as well as the US 1 list at Merrill Lynch. General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) is a worldwide aerospace and defense company, and it has over 96,000 employees worldwide. General Dynamics operates through four business groups: Aerospace, Combat Systems, Marine Systems and Information Systems and Technology. The U.S. government is its largest customer, which could continue to bode well as Congress should remain in Republican hands after the upcoming elections.
The U.S. Coast Guard recently awarded General Dynamics Mission Systems a $125.6 million follow-on contract to provide Rescue 21 program management, system support and maintenance and sustainment engineering support for the U.S. Coast Guard Command, Control and Communications Engineering Center.
Shareholders are paid a 2.01% dividend. The Merrill Lynch has a $170 price target on the stock, while the Wall Street consensus estimate is $169.54. The stock closed most recently at $151.01.
This top diversified industrial makes sense for investors looking for a more diverse stock for their portfolio. Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) is a New-Jersey based diversified, global technology and manufacturing company. Honeywell’s operations are organized under three business groups: Aerospace, Automation and Control Solutions, and Performance Materials & Technologies. The company is a premier supplier of avionics, power and control systems for the aerospace industry.
The company recently slightly lowered third-quarter earnings estimates, and while it raised some questions about the long-term growth trajectory, most on Wall Street remain very comfortable with the story.
Honeywell shareholders receive a 2.2% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $125, and the consensus target is $123.95. The shares closed Thursday at $108.26.
Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) is another top aerospace and defense stock to buy, as many on Wall Street are expecting a very solid continuation of U.S. and foreign defense spending. Employing 112,000, Lockheed Martin engages in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of technology systems, products and services. The company also provides management, engineering, technical, scientific, logistics and information services.
Earlier this year Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.27 billion contract for the delivery of 13 F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Six F-35Bs will be going to the Marine Corps, three F-35As to the Air Force and four F-35Cs to the Navy.
Shareholders receive a 3.12% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price objective is $275, and the consensus target is $264.50. The shares closed Thursday at $232.99.
This company has a diversified mix of business and is on the Merrill Lynch high quality and dividend yield screen and is also a top fourth-quarter pick. Raytheon Corp. (NYSE: RTN) is an industry leader in defense, government electronics, space, information technology and technical services. The company operates in four principal business segments: Integrated Defense Systems, Intelligence, Information and Services, Missile Systems, and Space and Airborne Systems.
The company reported net sales of $6 billion in the second quarter, a 3% year-to-year increase. Many top analysts feel that as the aerospace and defense segment grows, Raytheon will continue to be a key figure in the market, something that most likely could continue for years to come.
Raytheon investors are paid a 2.12% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is posted at $160, and the consensus target is $156.26. The shares closed at $138.10.
The bottom line for investors: spending is going to stay strong for the foreseeable future. That makes these solid holdings for growth and income accounts. And the world will continue to be a very dangerous place.