Will Lockheed's Rival Crash and Burn?

Investors know the saying: "Bulls make money, bears make money, but pigs get slaughtered." If you stumble onto a "good thing," don't get greedy -- take a fair profit. France's Dassault would be wise to heed that lesson.

Yesterday, DefenseNews.com reported that Dassault has run into trouble in negotiations to sell the United Arab Emirates a fleet of Rafale fighter jets. The UAE wanted to purchase several dozen of the jets to replace its 63 French Mirage fighters. But a deal that was supposed to cost somewhere between $2.5 billion and $6 billion is getting more expensive by the day. DN.com reports Dassault is now asking for as much as $10 billion.

I certainly understand Dassault's desire to maximize profits. The UAE has bought Dassault's fighters before, and it seems to like them. Why not charge as much as the market will bear? But from the buyer's perspective, "the UAE is finding the Rafale offer to be too costly compared to ... other technologies on the market."

Don't like pork? Try the chicken
Unfortunately for Dassault, the UAE's not a captive customer. Last year, it considered buying Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) F/A-18 Super Hornets instead. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) , with a long history in the UAE, poses an even greater threat to Dassault's deal. Alongside partner Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  ) , Lockheed recently sold multiple anti-aircraft and missile defense systems to the country.

More pertinently, Lockheed sold the Emirates a fleet of 80 F-16 fighter jets back in the 1990s. Indeed, Lockheed and the UAE cooperated to develop a new F-16 variant designated the "Block 60 Desert Falcon," which some consider "the most capable" F-16 version in use worldwide. Lockheed would certainly love to repeat that deal, which netted it $7.3 billion in sales. (I'm guessing that GE (NYSE: GE  ) and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) , who provided the engines, wouldn't mind, either.) Lockheed's reportedly offering the UAE "a very attractive financial package" if it chooses the F-16 over Dassault's Rafale.

Next to that offer, Dassault's starting to look a bit oinkish.

Will Lockheed succeed in stealing the fighter jet contract from Dassault? Will Boeing butt in with an even better offer on the F-18? Add both stocks to your Fool Watchlist, and find out.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks named above, but The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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