Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Defense Investing- Cyber Security: The Next Great Defense Opportunity

POINT ROBERTS, Wash., DELTA, B.C. –June 16, 2009 – www.HomelandDefenseStocks.com, a leading global investor and industry portal for the defense and security sector, within Investorideas.com, presents a follow-up to the May 6th feature on defense stocks, “Defense Budget Winners and Losers”, by Lisa Springer, CFA, as attention builds on the cyber security sector.
Cyber Security: The Next Great Defense Opportunity
Lisa Springer CFA, Equity research analyst and financial writer
Defense Stocks: Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV), Optex Systems (OTCBB: OPXS), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD)
Many defense contractors look for huge growth opportunities in the market for cyber security. Bruce Tanner, the CFO of Lockheed Martin, recently identified cyber security as the quickest, near-term defense opportunity, with market growth well exceeding DoD growth rates. Tanner also believes cyber security margins will be comparable to DoD contracts. Lockheed has begun focusing M&A activity in the global security area and anticipates additional cyber security acquisitions this year.
Both Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) are eager to gain share in this $7.4 billion market and have formed business units to tap cyber security spending. Boeing created its Cyber Solutions division last August and Lockheed launched its cyber-defense unit last October.
To address cyber security opportunities, Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) has acquired three network security providers, plans to hire 300 certified security engineers this year, and is partnering with University of Texas researchers on new cyber solutions. Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) is also expanding cyber security capacity and was recently awarded a DoD contract for the National Cyber Range, part of a major government-wide effort to improve the nation’s defense against electronic attacks.
The need for a national cyber security plan is becoming increasingly evident as cyber attacks on U.S. agencies and civilian facilities cost the U.S. billions of dollars annually. The problem is getting worse; security breaches of government and private computer networks nearly doubled last year to 72,000. In response, the government is increasing spending for cyber security, which is forecast to rise by 44% to $10.7 billion in 2013. The Bush administration launched a cyber initiative last year funded at around $6 billion and the Obama administration is making cyber security an even higher priority.
President Obama earmarked $355 billion for cyber security in his 2010 fiscal budget and also announced plans to name a cyber security czar, who will have broad authority and likely serve on the National Security Council. Last month, the White House published a cyber security report with guidelines for strategies ranging from communications networks for emergency response teams to the government’s role in protecting infrastructure. The report followed a 60 day review of current government cyber security initiatives and was ordered by Obama shortly after he took office.
Many investors think increased government spending for cyber security will offset revenues lost by defense contractors due to military spending cuts. Share prices for many defense contractors are continuing to rise despite program cuts under the new defense budget. Since early April when the new budget was announced, Lockheed shares have climbed 18%, Boeing shares have jumped 39%, General Dynamic shares have gained 34% and Raytheon shares have improved 11%. This compared to a 13% rise in the S&P 500 during the same period.
In addition, earnings for this group remain strong; most large defense contractors recorded EPS gains and increased EPS guidance after the March 2009 quarter. Lockheed Martin raised full-year guidance by 10 cents to $7.15-47.35, Northrop Grumman increased guidance by 15 cents to $4.65-$4.90, and Raytheon boosted guidance by 10 cents to $4.55-4.70. Boeing was a notable exception; earnings for its defense business fell 18% year-over-year and Boeing cut full-year guidance by 35 cents to $4.70-$5.00.
Small defense contractors providing tools for existing military operations will benefit from $130 billion in funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the new defense budget. An $83.4 billion war-time supplement request has been submitted to Congress to cover Iraq/Afghanistan costs through the second half of 2009.
Shares of AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV) have jumped 15% since the new defense budget was announced. This company manufactures unmanned military drones used in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In June, AeroVironment received orders for a third global observer aircraft, the sixth contract option exercised under a program cumulatively valued at $120 million.
Newly-public Optex Systems (OTCBB: OPXS) manufactures optical sighting systems for large Howitzer guns used to shell insurgent positions in Afghanistan. During the March quarter, Optex grew revenues nearly 20% and cut its net loss by half. Excluding non-cash intangible expense, the company would have recorded positive net income. Prior to the earnings release, Optex signed a new $7.5 million contract with the U.S. Army for laser-protected periscopes. The company’s shares began trading in early May and quickly climbed to $0.45 before retreating to the current $0.25 range.
General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) is capitalizing on contracting opportunities in sensors and imaging by acquiring Axsys Technology (NASDAQ:AXYS), a manufacturer of high-performance sensors, in a transaction valued at $54 per share, a premium to Axys’ pre-merger share price. Axsys competes with Optex in military applications for sensors and imaging. This acquisition will likely focus increased attention on the optical sensor space and may cause Optex to emerge as an attractive takeover candidate.
Lisa Springer Bio/ Disclaimer: http://www.investorideas.com/About/Lisa-Springer-CFA/

Original article – Defense Budget Winners and Losers May 6th
How Defense Companies Boeing (NYSE:BA), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), Optex Systems Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB:OPXS) and others are Impacted

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
Visit Optex Systems Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: OPXS) Company Profile: http://www.investorideas.com/CO/OPTEX/
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For more information contact: Dawn Van Zant 800.665.0411 Email: dvanzant@HomelandDefenseStocks.com
Source: HomelandDefenseStocks.com, Investor Ideas, Optex Systems Holdings Inc. (OTCBB: OPXS)

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