Companies Profiting the Most From War

Print Email

7. Airbus Group
> Arm sales:
$14.49 billion
> Total sales: $80.52 billion
> Profit: $3.12 billion
> Employment: 138,620

Of companies on this list, Airbus Group is the least dependent on arms sales. Its military equipment sales totalled $14.5 billion in 2014, just 18% of its total revenue. While Airbus Group was perhaps hurt less by the global decline in military sales, it has still struggled with the weakening world economy. The company’s arms sales fell by $1.3 billion in 2014, one of the larger declines. In an interview with Reuters this January, the head of the group’s helicopter division explained that deliveries will likely remain flat. Largely due to falling oil prices, deliveries, particularly to oil and gas companies, fell last year.

Airbus Group still reported a profit of $3.1 billion in 2014. The company has also recently began adding new customers to its traditional client list. Airbus announced at the start of the year it would soon be providing helicopters to Uber Technologies.

6. General Dynamics (NYSE: GD)
> Arm sales:
$18.60 billion
> Total sales: $30.85 billion
> Profit: $2.82 billion
> Employment: 99,500

Reporting $18.6 billion in arms sales in 2014, General Dynamics is the sixth largest military supplier in the world. Like many military contractors, General Dynamics has been losing sales since 2013, likely as a result of declining defense spending worldwide. Nevertheless, the company reported a profit of $2.8 billion overall in 2014, the eighth most of any defense technology manufacturer. Arms sales accounted for 60% of the company’s total revenue, the rest of which consisted of aerospace and naval industrial products. The Danish government has been a long-time customer of General Dynamics. At the beginning of this year, the company won a contract to outfit the Danish army with military ground vehicles.

5. Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC)
> Arm sales:
$19.66 billion
> Total sales: $23.98 billion
> Profit: $2.07 billion
> Employment: 11,000

Northrop Grumman is the fifth largest military supplier in the world and the fourth largest in the United States. Northrop Grumman reported a sales drop of $540 million between 2013 and 2014. This was a relatively large decline even compared to North American and European defense companies, most of which reported sales drops over that period. Still, Northrop Grumman reported $2.1 billion in profit in 2014, the 12th most of any defense contractor. Recently, the company was awarded a contract to manufacture the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft for the Japanese military. Northrop Grumman is also tasked with developing the new Long Range Strike Bomber for the U.S. Air Force, a project notorious for its history of failed development attempts.

4. Raytheon (NYSE: RTN)
> Arm sales:
$21.37 billion
> Total sales: $22.83 billion
> Profit: $2.26 billion
> Employment: 61,000

In the wake of falling oil prices, the Great Recession and the resulting Pentagon spending cuts, a number of large defense companies have attempted to diversify their product lines. The nature of threats change over time, and defense contractors diversify to predict demands from unforeseen attacks. Raytheon is one such example, purchasing cyber security firm Websense in the middle of last year for $1.7 billion. While other contractors have also invested in the field, the recent purchase is by far the largest in at least a decade. Arms sales accounted for 94% of Raytheon’s total revenue of $22.8 billion in 2014, one of the larger shares of any company in the world.