It’s a good time to be in the defense and warfare business. Just ask Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and its competitors. The geopolitical woes of 2017 include the Middle East, ISIS, Iran, North Korea, tensions with Russia and China, and a whole slew of other risks. It turns out that defense company shareholders are reaping the rewards.
Lockheed Martin delivered two bits of great news for its shareholders — a big dividend hike, and an increase in its stock buyback plan. With such news, and with raised guidance earlier in the summer, this may even keep any fears of any earnings disappointments at bay for a while longer.
Lockheed Martin’s board of directors has announced a fourth quarter 2017 dividend of $2.00 per common share. This is roughly a 10% increase versus the $1.82 payout from last quarter. The dividend will be payable on the date of December 29, 2017 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on December 1, 2017.
Reviewing the similar dividend hike announcement from 2016 shows just how much the defense sector strength has been. Last year’s dividend hike announcement was the company’s 14th year in a row that it increased its quarterly dividend rate by 10% or more.
Dividend hikes are loved by investors, but continuing with share buybacks is also loved by shareholders. Lockheed Martin’s board of directors has now authorized the repurchase of up to an additional $2.0 billion of Lockheed Martin common stock under its share repurchase program. The actual number of shares purchased and the timing of these share purchases will be at management’s discretion. The company noted:
With this increase, the total remaining authorization for future repurchases under the share repurchase program is approximately $4.0 billion.
Lockheed Martin has roughly an $89 billion market cap. It was also just in July when the company increased its 2017 financial outlook for sales, operating profit and earnings per share. The company also noted that it had repurchased 1.9 million shares for $500 million in the second quarter alone (versus 2.1 million shares for $501 million a year earlier) and it returned $525 million via dividends (versus $501 million for the same period a year earlier).
Investors have gotten more than used to dividend hikes and buybacks. Shares rarely rise on new announcements these days, because they have almost become routine. Lockheed Martin’s new dividend yield of this $8.00 per share annualized payout (based upon a $308.75 share price) will be 2.6%. That is right in-line to a tad above the median yield of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Lockheed Martin is not even in the Dow.
Its shares were down 0.5% at $308.62 late on Thursday. Lockheed Martin has a 52-week range of $228.50 to $311.36 and its consensus analyst price target from Thomson Reuters is $312.37.