Special Report

20 Companies Profiting the Most From War

Thomas C. Frohlich, Hristina Byrnes

Global arms sales totaled $420 billion in 2018, up 4.6% from 2017, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). U.S.-based companies again dominate SIPRI’s list of top global arms manufacturers and military services providers. With Congress passing its record high $738 billion defense spending bill this December, which includes military modernization and a new Space Force military branch, this trend is likely to continue. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data provided by SIPRI to identify the companies profiting most from war. Companies were ranked based on SIPRI’s estimates of arms and military services sales in 2018. Chinese companies were not considered due to lack of sufficient data. Arms and military services sales figures came from SIPRI. Profits for the latest fiscal year came from financial reports and corporate press releases.

The United States is home to half of the world’s 10 largest defense contractors and to 43 of the top 100 defense companies. These companies accounted for 59% of total arms sales by the world’s 100 largest defense contractors in 2018 — an increase of 7.2%

“US companies are preparing for the new arms modernization programme that was announced in 2017 by President Trump,” Aude Fleurant, Director of SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme said in SIPRI’s December press release. 

“Large US companies are merging to be able to produce the new generation of weapon systems and therefore be in a better position to win contracts from the US Government.” 

President Donald Trump proposed in 2017 a defense budget of $716 billion, and modernization would include the establishment of a sixth armed service for space. Congress approved this December a defense budget of $738 billion. 

Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Dynamics — two of the top five arms and military services companies — each completed multi-billion dollar acquisitions in 2018, for example. 

Click here to see the 20 companies profiting the most from war