The defense industry has experienced quite the boom since President Donald Trump took office. Back in February, he initially unveiled plans to significantly increase federal spending related to national security, seeking $54 billion to spend on a variety of defense-related systems and stoking a rally in defense stocks.
Then there’s the multi-billion-dollar arms deal reached in May with Saudi Arabia. The transaction was a way to both improve a decades-long alliance with the world’s largest oil exporter, as well as potentially lead to additional sales to other countries in the region. Defense giants like Lockheed Martin (LMT - Free Report) —whose technology was part of the agreement—Boeing (BA - Free Report) , and Raytheon (RTN - Free Report) will all likely benefit.
And recently, the industry has undergone a small wave of consolidation. United Technologies (UTX - Free Report) announced a major $30 billion deal to acquire Rockwell Collins (COL - Free Report) , creating one of the world’s largest aircraft-equipment manufactures. Not long after, Northrop Grumman (NOC - Free Report) said it would be buying Orbital ATK in order to expand and increase its defense footprint; Orbital notably holds a contract with NASA to resupply the International Space Station with its Antares rocket.
As defense stocks and funds like the iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF (ITA - Free Report) continue to gain this year, let’s take a look at three top picks for your portfolio.
Engility Holdings Inc. (EGL - Free Report)
Headquartered in Chantilly, Virginia, Engility Holdings provides government services in engineering, professional support, and mission support to customers in the U.S. Department of Defense, federal civilian agencies, and allied foreign governments. Its innovate solutions range from offering views of battlespaces to airborne platforms to providing advanced communications to support first responders, among many other services.
Engility is currently a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), and has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the past seven quarters, boasting an average earnings surprise of 23.5%. Looking ahead, Engility expects year-over-year earnings growth of nearly 40% for the current year, with three positive revisions in the last 60 days. Sales, however, are expected to dip about 5% in the same time frame, but should bounce back by next fiscal year.
Shares of EGL have had a quiet 2017 so far, but the company sits in a strong industry; Aerospace-Defense is in the top 23% of all industries ranked by Zacks, and has returned well over 38% year-to-date. Engility reports its next quarterly earnings in early November.
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Northrop Grumman provides innovative solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, and information technology for the U.S. and international militaries, government and commercial customers, as a prime contractor, principal subcontractor, team member, or preferred supplier. Northrop is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.
Sitting at a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank, Northrop has started off strong in 2017. Both its earnings and revenue figures for the second quarter surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate, and it looks like the rest of the year will continue to see improved growth. Northrop expects year-over-year earnings growth of about 14% for the current year, and sales growth of about 3.18% for the same time frame; nine analysts have revised their earnings estimate upward in the last 60 days compared to none lower.
Northrop also has a history of beating expectations, soaring past consensus estimates over the past four consecutive quarters. The defense contractor has an average earnings surprise of almost 12.6%. Like Engility, the company resides in the Aerospace-Defense industry. Northrop is set to report its next quarterly earnings on October 25 before the bell.
Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. (HII - Free Report)
Known for designing nuclear and non-nuclear ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, Huntington Ingalls Industries develops and produces warships like destroyers, amphibious transport dock ships, and national security cutters. The company also provides complex nuclear project management, and is based in Newport News, Virginia.
Shares of Huntington have gained well over 24% year-to-date, and the Aerospace-Defense player is a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank. Looking at its current year, Huntington expects earnings growth of over 14% on sales growth of just 3.8%; four analysts have revised their earnings estimates upwards in the last 60 days compared to none lower. Historically, the company has seen EPS growth of 30.7%, and next fiscal year should see Huntington continue its earnings growth trend.
Huntington has an average earnings surprise of about 8.5%, and is expected to report its next quarterly earnings on November 8 before the bell.
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