Lockheed Martin stock is down 0.9% today (Wednesday) at $201.71 as the global aerospace titan rolled out its first highly anticipated F-35A Lightning II for the Norwegian Armed Forces.
Despite today's muted reaction, Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) stock will benefit as more F-35s are delivered across the world.
The F-35A Lighting II is an innovative fifth-generation fighter jet. Lockheed Martin describes it as "combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility." It also includes fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, and advanced sustainment.
The three variants of the F-35 will replace legacy fighters for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marines. It will also be used in at least 10 other countries.
In short, the F-35 is the largest military contract in history, with Lockheed as the principal contractor. It is part of the $1.4 trillion, 56-year F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project. Others involved include Northrup Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) and BAE Systems Plc. (OTCMKTS ADR: BAESY).
The fifth-generation F-35 fighter has been in development for 14 years. The Marine Corps fielded the first combat-ready squadron of F-35s this summer. The U.S. Air Force plans to introduce the plane next year. The Navy has a target date of 2019, at which time the aircraft is expected to enter full-rate production.
With the F-35s, the U.S. military is confident it is introducing a cutting-edge weapon system capable of outclassing even modern, super-maneuverable Russian and Chinese aircraft like the Sukhoi T-50.
And the F-35 isn't the only reason Lockheed Martin stock is one of the best defense stocks on the market now...
Why Lockheed Martin Stock Is a Buy Now
In addition to the F-35, Lockheed Martin's other strengths include cybersecurity, logistics, and tactical compunctions.
It's a leader in biometrics, helping travelers with vetted backgrounds move through expedited security lines at airports. Lockheed Martin also has a strong foothold in nanotechnology, which may hold the key to addressing some of the most pressing issues of sustainability, energy management, healthcare, and security.
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The Bethesda, Md.-based company is also adept at dealing with military spending cuts.
"These guys have learned from our history - at the end of every shooting war, defense budgets come under sharp attack in a politically tough environment," Money Morning Defense & Tech Specialist Michael A. Robinson said. "Lockheed Martin's reach also includes space exploration, satellite systems, and climate monitoring. Not only that, but it's a whiz at biometric and cyber security, as well as the booming field of cloud computing."
In the last 12 months, Lockheed Martin stock has climbed 14.5%. That compares to a loss of 4.7% for the Dow Jones in the same time.
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- The Wall Street Journal: Pentagon to Urge Congress to Approve F-35 Contract
- Lockheed Martin: Lockheed Martin and Norwegian Armed Forced Celebrate Rollout of Norway's First F-35A