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L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL - Analyst Report) along with fellow aerospace company Exelis Inc. (XLS - Snapshot Report) was jointly awarded a $200 million firm-fixed-price contract.  The award will provide for the procurement of Enhanced 3rd Generation Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging Systems. L-3 Communications expects to finish work on the contract by September 3, 2017.  The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Holdings operates through its wholly owned subsidiary, L-3 Communications Corporation. L-3 Communications is a leading supplier of a broad range of products and services used on a number of aerospace and defense platforms. In addition, the company is a prime system contractor for aircraft modernization and maintenance; ISR collection platforms; simulation and training; and government systems support services.

Recently, in July 2012, L-3 Communications completed the spin-off of 100% of a new, independent, publicly traded government services company – Engility Holdings Inc. (EGL - Snapshot Report) – to L-3 shareholders. We believe that L-3 Communications has ample opportunity for growth and profit expansion after the favorable conclusion to the spin-off of its Government Services businesses. The company has retained its profitable Cyber, Intelligence, and Security Solutions business. The spin-off also removes a lot of uncertainty with respect to revenue and takes away some of the low margin businesses of the company. Over the longer run, we view the company as one of the best-positioned pure defense players based on its non-platform focus, broad diversification of programs and its focus on shareholder value.

L-3 Communications remains a key player within the defense segment and mainly competes with FLIR Systems Inc. (FLIR - Analyst Report) and Raytheon Company (RTN - Analyst Report). We believe it is one of the best-positioned pure defense plays by virtue of its non-platform focus and a broad diversification of programs.

L-3 Communications is strengthening itself by focusing on improvement of operational efficiencies, investing in research and development to provide affordable solutions, acquiring businesses that will add new capabilities, and expanding product lines and divesting businesses. Moreover, its broad diversification of programs would provide growth momentum. Going forward, we expect future growth to come from the company’s strong presence in the current focus areas of C3ISR equipment; precision-guided weapons; unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”); and other electro-mechanical robotic capabilities.

This was reflected in the company’s recently reported second quarter results with the top and bottom lines surpassing the corresponding Zacks Consensus Estimates with ease. Going forward, we expect the company to continue posting strong earnings based on its opportunities in growth areas, including Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, Electro-Optical/Infrared systems and cyber security.

Moreover, the company’s balanced business mix, improving operational efficiencies and focus on research and development allow it to pursue strategic opportunities in the commercial arena and in overseas markets.

Also, with the completion of the spin-off, the company will be able to focus more on core areas by providing market-leading, value-added products and solutions to its customers. In the long run, we expect the company to be one of the best-positioned pure defense players based on its broad diversification of programs and its focus on shareholder value. However, we remain concerned about the loss of key contracts, defense spending cuts and the lack of near-term catalysts.

L-3 Communications currently retains a Zacks #4 Rank, which translates into a short-term Strong Sell rating. Over the longer run, we maintain our Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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