Investorideas.com newswire, defense and security sector

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Changing Face of the Defense Industry; an Exclusive Interview with Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur, Managing Director at Morgan Keegan

The Changing Face of the Defense Industry; an Exclusive Interview with Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur, Managing Director at Morgan Keegan

Analyst Interview on Defense Budget and Commentary from Defense Company, Optex Systems Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: OPXS)

POINT ROBERTS, Wash., DELTA, B.C. –July 15, 2009 – www.HomelandDefenseStocks.com, a leading global investor and industry portal for the defense and security sector, within Investorideas.com, provides investors and defense industry participants, new Defense Budget commentary from defense analyst, Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur, Managing Director at Morgan Keegan.

Mr. Ruttenbur discusses the recent changes in the defense budget and the changing face of the defense industry and how it impacts both companies and investors.

One public company, Optex Systems Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: OPXS), continues to see the flow down of these trends in government spending. According to Danny Schoening, Chief Operating Officer, “The army is committed to a rigorous maintenance and repair program in these very harsh operating conditions in addition to their new vehicle supply. Further, the demand for night vision equipment and weapon sights remains high.”

Previous Budget related releases from Homelanddefensestocks.com:
Defense Budget Winners and Losers May 6 2009
Defense Investing- Cyber Security: The Next Great Defense Opportunity June 16, 2009

The Changing Face of the Defense Industry
Homelanddefensestocks.com (HDS) June 2009 Interview with Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur, Managing Director at Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc., Research Division, who covers the security, safety, and defense sector. Mr. Ruttenbur discusses the recent changes in the defense budget and the changing face of the defense industry.
HDS Question

Brian, the defense industry is currently undergoing some major changes, with the recent Budget announcements of 663.8 billion for fiscal year 2010, with a base budget of $533.8 billion, an increase 4.0% from the 2009 budget of $513.3 billion, plus $130 billion for ongoing military operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Within the budget there is a shift in the direction of spending, concentrating on the current wars and a mandate to monitor spending and eliminate waste. In that - can you give us some insight as to what companies are impacted the most and how?

Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur Answer -
Companies that focus on basic troop support – the “beans and bullets” – will be hurt by declining troop levels and supplemental spending over the next several years; those focused on areas we think demand will continue to grow in (such as maintenance/refurbishment, cybersecurity and ISR) we expect will continue to grow and perform well. Additionally, we believe international defense spending will grow at a faster rate than domestic. Companies we see doing well include L-3 (focus on defense electronics & maintenance), Raytheon (focus on defense electronics, strong international presence), Lockheed Martin (strong international growth opportunities particularly w/ F-35), and General Dynamics (should do well with the military’s large reset bill – Army projected to spend $13+ billion annually over several years). The talk of reform and reducing waste will most likely not result in any major changes that will significantly impact the industry, though it may put additional pressure on companies to fix operational issues (such as those at Northrop Grumman).

HDS Question -
For investors who have followed the defense sector in the past - there are new trends to factor in. What do you see as the most significant short term trends in the defense industry and how can investors play into those?

Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur Answer -
Short term, we see strong demand for ISR assets – IR cameras, UAVs, spy/surveillance planes, as well as training and logistics support for the developing Iraqi / Afghan armies. We also expect growth in cybersecurity spending, which will be spread across the DoD, DHS, intelligence agencies, and civilian government agencies. Despite the drawdown in Iraq, we see no near term decline in core U.S. defense spending. Given a flattening of defense growth combined with the solid balance sheets of most defense contractors, we expect M&A activity to begin picking up, and be particularly strong around the 2010/2011 timeframe. We also note that we expect the government to move toward using more fixed price contracts. While we expect developmental work will remain largely cost-plus, we see full run rate procurement work becoming a higher proportion fixed price over time. While this may add some risk to programs, we believe that it may also provide opportunities to companies which are able to efficiently run their operations, as fixed price contracts traditionally are awarded with a higher potential margin rate.

HDS Question
The defense industry is also changing in terms of the global spending picture and several US companies benefited from the February International Defence Exhibition & Conference 2009 (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, where an estimated $ 5 billion was spent. How do you see global spending impacting the markets,
and what do North American companies have to do to participate?

Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur Answer -
We expect that growth international defense spending will outpace domestic spending over the next several years (though the U.S. will remain far and away the largest single defense customer). In particular, we see strong opportunities with India (expected $30+ billion over next 10 years to modernize its forces), Australia (recently completed long term defense outlook, expects 3% real growth annually through 2018 off $13 billion base), South Korea/Japan (given heightened North Korean tensions and the rise of China), and in the Middle East (particularly Saudi Arabia). We believe it will be important for U.S. companies to be able to match their offerings to local needs, and be able to provide and support last generation technology to customers who may not have the resources of the U.S. (for instance, Lockheed Martin’s continued sales of F-16s and Boeing’s concept of creating a stealth F-15 for far cheaper than the F-35).

HDS Question

Brian since you have covered the Homeland Security sector from its beginnings, how do you think the US is positioned for potential threats, and is the new Government correct in its thinking and focus on cyber security?

And following on to the previous question - with China and other global powers increasing their defense and military spending - is the current Government in line with the rest of the world?


Mr. Brian W. Ruttenbur Answer -
We believe the administration is moving in the right direction with its increased focus on cybersecurity. This was an area that had been relatively neglected until near the end of the Bush administration, and given the increasing interconnectedness and therefore vulnerability of modern information, we see this as a vital portion of Homeland Security efforts (i.e. the concern over whether hackers could shut down the electric system, and the stealing of classified data on the F-35 program).
Compared with other global powers, the U.S. is still far and away the largest spender on defense. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute recently came out with its 2008 arms spending report, indicating that global defense spending neared $1.5 trillion in 2008. It reported that the U.S. spent $607 billion in 2008 (42% of the global total), and the next nine countries spent a combined $476 billion. However, the rate of growth in certain foreign countries appears to be higher. While the U.S. grew 9.7% in 2008, we see its growth rate declining to a low to mid single digit rate going forward, while countries such as China (which grew spending 10% in 2008 to become the number 2 spender overall) and Russia (grew spending 13% in 2008 to reach 5th overall) will most likely continue their high rates of growth. While we expect international spending to grow faster than U.S. spending, we note that we do not believe any foreign nation, or group of foreign nations, will reach a point where they could compete against the U.S. in a conventional sense within the next several decades.

Companies Mentioned
Boeing (BA NR - $52.83)
General Dynamics (GD O/M - $60.46)
Lockheed Martin (LMT O/M - $85.85)
L-3 Communications (LLL O/S - $74.97)
Northrop Grumman (NOC M/M - $48.70)
Raytheon (RTN O/M - $45.95)
Disclosures
The research analyst responsible for the preparation of this report does not hold investment positions of any nature in the securities of this issuer. The research analyst responsible for the preparation of this report is compensated in part on the firm's investment banking revenue but is not compensated based upon specific investment banking services transactions.

Morgan Keegan & Co., Inc. expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from LLL, security, in the next 3 months.

Optex Systems Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: OPXS) is a featured defense stock and showcase company on Investor Ideas defense investor portals, Homelandefensestocks.com, BorderandPortsecurity.com and http://www.nationalhomelandsecurityknowledgebase.com ( See disclosure below )
Visit Optex Systems Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: OPXS) Company Profile: http://www.investorideas.com/CO/OPTEX/
ABOUT OPTEX SYSTEMS - Optex, which was founded in 1987, is a Richardson, Texas-based ISO 9001:2008 certified concern, which manufactures optical sighting systems and assemblies primarily for Department of Defense (DOD) applications. Its products are installed on a majority of types of U.S. military land vehicles, such as the Abrams and Bradley fighting vehicles, Light Armored and Advanced Security Vehicles and have been selected for installation on the Stryker family of vehicles. Optex also manufactures and delivers numerous periscope configurations, rifle and surveillance sights and night vision optical assemblies. Optex delivers its products both directly to the military services and to prime contractors. Company's website: www.optexsys.com

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