There is one thing, and generally one thing only, that has driven the rise or fall of the stocks in the aerospace and defense sector. That one important item is defense spending, which is a gigantic part of what drives the moves in the stocks. While defense is a distant third after Social Security and Medicare spending in the federal budget, it still made up a whopping 18% last year, coming in at $615 billion.
A new research report from Deutsche Bank raises price targets on four top stocks to buy, and the firm also remains bullish on defense spending. In fact, the report points out that with the positive inflection in the fiscal year 2015 weapons appropriations passed by Congress in December after seven years of declines, U.S. defense spending seems to be on the mend.
The Deutsche Bank team raised price target on these four Buy-rated stocks: General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD), Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. (NYSE: HII), L3 Communications Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LLL) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC).
This top company had a very solid year and makes the list at Deutsche Bank as a stock to buy for 2015. The company is a worldwide aerospace and defense company that 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 bode well now that Congress has changed hands.
General Dynamics investors are paid a 2.05% dividend. Deutsche Bank raises the price target from $162 to $166, while the Thomson/First Call consensus target is lower at $157.27. Shares closed Thursday at $135.28.
Huntington Ingalls Industries
Huntington Ingalls Industries is a lesser known defense name that also has a rating of Buy at Deutsche Bank for 2015. The company designs, builds, overhauls and repairs ships, primarily for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. It offers nuclear-powered ships, such as aircraft carriers and submarines, and non-nuclear ships, including surface combatants, expeditionary warfare/amphibious assault, coastal defense surface ships and national security cutters. It also engages in the refueling and overhaul and inactivation of nuclear-powered ships.
Huntington investors are paid a 1.15% dividend. Deutsche Bank raises the price target big, from $137 to $157. The consensus target is lower at $143.67. The stock closed Thursday at $141.33.
L-3 employs approximately 45,000 people worldwide and is a prime contractor in aerospace systems and national security solutions. L-3 is also a leading provider of a broad range of communication and electronic systems and products used on military and commercial platforms. The company reported 2014 sales of $12.1 billion.
While fourth quarter numbers were less than stellar, the company has been listed as a potential benefactor from an increase in the U.S. drone program.
L3 investors are paid a 2.05% dividend. Deutsche Bank raises its price target from $139 to $145. The consensus target is set at $141.67, and shares closed Thursday at $126.77 apiece.
Northrop Grumman was ranked as the sixth-largest defense contractor by sales last year. The company is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems segment designs, develops, integrates and produces manned aircraft, unmanned systems, spacecraft, high-energy laser systems, microelectronics and other systems and subsystems.
Northrop Grumman investors are paid a 1.8% dividend. The Deutsche Bank price target is raised to $179 from $175. The consensus target is $164.08. Shares closed on Thursday at $162.52.
The bottom line for investors is that spending will stay strong for the foreseeable future. That makes these solid holdings for growth and income accounts.