Six of the world’s largest defense contractors are U.S.-based companies, and all are set to report quarterly earnings this week. If recent history is any guide, the results should, with one exception, be outstanding.
Four of the six companies posted share price growth of between 47% and 60% in 2019. The two that missed that group did so because of non-defense-related causes, and the other faced a lack of spending on IT products last year, just after making a sizable acquisition to beef up its offerings in that space.
The big laggard, of course, was Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), the world’s second-largest defense contractor, which was dogged by the grounding of its 737 Max commercial jets following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people in a five-month period.
Here’s a look at what to expect from Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), Boeing, Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC), Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN), General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) and United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
United Technologies is scheduled to post its quarterly report before markets open Tuesday. The consensus estimates call for $1.84 in earnings per share (EPS) on $19.38 billion in revenue. Shares closed at $153.19 as of last Friday, and the stock has a 52-week range of $113.77 to $155.53. The consensus price target is $166.13.
In 2018, the last year for which full data is available, UTC raked in $9.31 billion defense revenues, about 14% of its total for the year. The company is near to completing a merger with Raytheon. UTC stock jumped 46.5% last year.
Lockheed Martin is also scheduled to report before markets open on Tuesday. Analysts are looking for quarterly EPS of $5.02 and revenues of $15.27 billion. The stock closed at $432.50 on Friday, in a 52-week range of $281.00 to $433.52 and with a 12-month price target on the stock of $424.05.
Lockheed’s defense business posted revenues of $50.54 billion in 2018, accounting for 94% of total annual revenue. The U.S. defense budget boosted the number of F-35 jets to be delivered in 2020, a good beginning for the company’s new year. Lockheed stock soared 60% in 2019.
General Dynamics reports quarterly results Wednesday morning. Estimates call for $3.45 in EPS and $10.64 billion in revenues. The stock closed Friday at $185.07, in a 52-week range of $160.21 to $193.76, and the consensus price target is $208.56.
Nearly two-thirds of its 2018 annual revenues ($24.06 billion) came from its defense business. Among the company’s best-known armaments are the Abrams tank, the Stryker combat vehicle and the nation’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet. The company’s stock gained nearly 17% last year.
Boeing also reports results before markets open Wednesday morning, and expectations are, shall we say, muted. Shares closed at $323.05 on Friday. The stock’s consensus price target is $339.85, and it has a 52-week range of $302.72 to $446.01. Analysts expect EPS of just $1.47 (compared to $5.48 in the fourth quarter of 2018) and revenues of $21.67 billion (down from $28.34 billion).
Just over a third of Boeing’s total revenues in 2018 were down to its defense business, but that business generated $34.05 billion in sales. The company’s new refueling tanker, the KC-46, had some problems last year, but the U.S. Department of Defense has authorized delivery of 12 more in 2020. Even with the grounding of the 737 Max, Boeing stock still added 4% in 2019.
Raytheon is scheduled to report quarterly results before markets open on Thursday. Shares closed at $231.24 on Friday, in a 52-week range of $164.70 to $233.48 and with a price target of $238.20. Analysts expect the company to post EPS of $3.12 and revenues of $8 billion.
Unlike its soon-to-be partner UTC, Raytheon gets the vast majority of its revenues (94%) from defense sales. In 2018 that amounted to $25.16 billion. Raytheon stock added nearly 51% last year.
Northrop Grumman also reports Thursday morning. The stock closed at $381.64 last Friday, in a 52-week range of $263.29 to $384.68. The consensus price target on the shares is $413.44. Analysts are looking for quarterly EPS of $4.77 and revenues of $8.85 billion.
In 2018, 84% of Northrop’s sales came from its defense business, and the company last year won a 20-year, $63 billion contract to develop the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program that replaces more than 400 Minuteman ICBM missiles. Northrop shares added nearly 54% last year.
Overall, the outlook for defense stocks in 2020 is solid, if not as spectacular as 2019, and there is still some upside left in these (and a few other) names.