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Rockwell Collins Gets Navy Contract

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Rockwell Collins Inc. (COL - Free Report) has been awarded a $54 million full rate production contract, with unexercised options valued at an additional $241 million, by the U.S. Navy. Per the contract the company will upgrade 11 aircraft as part of the E-6B Block I Modification program.

The Navy E-6B aircraft is used to conduct the “Take Charge and Move Out” (TACAMO) and the United States Strategic Command Airborne Command Post missions. The open system solution provided by the Block I modification addresses immediate modernization requirements and enables system expansion in the future. The initial $54 million award covers the procurement of the material, installation and associated activities for the aircrafts. The total program includes production engineering support, field service support, operator and maintenance crew training classes and maintenance trainer updates.

The Block I Modification being completed by Rockwell Collins features an open system approach for mission avionics, a Voice over Internet Protocol Intercommunications System and an on-aircraft, multi-level secure network for message processing, radio control/monitoring and other mission applications. The program also improves the reliability and availability of the Ultra High Frequency Command, Control and Communication system and enhances the electrical power and cooling systems.

The Block I Modification solution modernizes the aircraft's communication infrastructure to support moving data. This infrastructure will support ever increasing bandwidth demands in this emerging age of digital battlespace.

Rockwell Collins recently reported its fourth quarter fiscal 2012 results, ending September 30, 2012. In that quarter the company reported adjusted earnings of $1.32, beating our expectation of $1.09. Earnings were up 17.0% year over year. GAAP earnings per share during the fourth quarter were $1.06 versus $1.02 in the prior-year period. The difference between operating and GAAP earnings in the fourth quarter was due to a restructuring and assets impairment charge.

Rockwell Collins’ total sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 were down 2% year over year to $1,266 million. Revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,324 million. The year-over-year decline in revenue was due to lower sales from Government Systems, marginally offset by higher sales from Commercial Systems.

During the quarter, sales related to aircraft original equipment manufacturers were up 15% year over year to $307 million driven by increased sales of Airbus and The Boeing Company (BA - Free Report) , resulting from higher production rates of 787, 737 and A320 aircrafts.

For fiscal 2013, Rockwell Collins expects total revenue in the range of $4.60 billion to $4.7 billion. The company expects segment operating margin between 21.0% and 22%. It expects earnings in the range of $4.30 to $4.50 per share. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the year is at $4.43 per share. It expects research & development expenses to be approximately $1,000 million, with capital expenditure expected to be about $140 million.

Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rockwell Collins designs, manufactures, and supports software and hardware solutions for aircraft communication, navigation, signals intelligence, and weapons systems as well as surveillance systems. Going forward, Rockwell will benefit from the increasing orders for 737 MAX.

Rockwell Collins is the foremost global supplier of communications and avionics equipment for both commercial and military customers. The company’s balanced exposure to both types of customers allows the company to use government funding to develop products for the dual-end market. The dual-end market leads to higher volume sales, which create economies of scale in cost-sensitive government contracts. In the near term, the Surface solutions portfolio will shore up demand from military customers, while recovery in the business and regional jet market will boost commercial sales.

However, we expect growth of the business aviation market to be hampered by a slower global economic recovery. Also, Rockwell Collins generated 93% of revenues in fiscal 2012 from fixed priced contracts, exposing the bottom line to cost over-runs. As a result, the company will be able to make a profit only if costs stay under the contracted price.

Finally, a large percentage of Rockwell Collins’ business is generated outside the U.S. (33% of sales in fiscal 2012). However, as most of the company’s products are of dual-use (military and commercial), acceptance of contracts are governed by laws, regulations and policies of the U.S. government. The recent performance of the Government Systems segment has been lackluster given the adverse impact from delayed funding authorization and termination of certain programs because of shifting budget priorities.

We have thus maintained our Neutral recommendation on Rockwell Collins. The company currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold recommendation).

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