Is North Korea Led By a Modern Day Super-Villain?

Sometimes its seems like there's just no end to North Korea's provocations.

To be sure, while the country has undoubtedly developed a reputation for unleashing threatening rhetoric, it seems to have achieved an entirely new level of vitriol over the past few weeks.

So far this month, for example, the reclusive nation scrapped the armistice which ended the Korean War in 1953, threatened to attack United States military bases in Japan and Guam, and -- shortly before a scheduled United Nations vote on whether to enact a fresh round of crippling sanctions against the country --  vowed to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the U.S.

That's not to mention the country's bizarre propaganda video last week in which it envisioned the bombing of the White House and Congress, or recent reports that its diplomats are quite literally being asked to forgo their ambassadorial responsibilities to instead sell large quantities of drugs in an effort to fill North Korea's coffers.

Then, just this week, North Korean hackers (now there's a term you don't hear everyday) are suspected in recent cyber attacks which temporarily shut down around 32,000 computers and servers belonging to South Korean media and financial companies.

So who's protecting us?
For all intents and purposes, then, given the fact that North Korea seems bent on not playing nice with others, the country increasingly looks more like a modern day super-villain than anything else.

And that's exactly why now is a great time to take a deeper look at a few of the companies who've made it their business to protect our country. 

On missile defense
For one, putting aside the fact that its shares currently trade hands for less than nine times trailing earnings, Northrup Grumman (NYSE: NOC  )  boasts arguably the most comprehensive portfolio of defense solutions our world has to offer.

In addition to building our nation's flagship long-range B-2 stealth bombers as well as enviable unmanned drones like the Global Hawk, Northrup maintains bleeding-edge cyber security solutions, has CBRNE detection systems (which stands for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives) currently placed around the U.S. Furthermore, Northrup is the prime contractor for our Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center, which plays a central role in the development of our nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense also awarded Lockheed Martin  (NYSE: LMT  ) a $79.7 million contract modification for its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, bringing the total value of the contract to a whopping $331.8 million. Like Northrup, Lockheed also plays great offense as evidenced by the F-35 maker's recent $54.3 million contract win involving its Long-Range Anti Ship Missile project.

On cybersecurity
Of course, Northrup and Lockheed aren't the only companies paid to protect our shores; Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  ) , for its part, not only maintains interceptors, radar equipment, and space sensors for its own missile defense systems, but also also recently agreed with the Department of Homeland Security to become a provider for "enhanced cybersecurity services" in response to the U.S. government's recent decision to further bolster its cybersecurity program. In short, through this effort Raytheon will make itself available to scan web traffic for potential threats to critical infrastructure companies.

With that in mind, I'd also be surprised if SAIC (NYSE: SAI  ) didn't join Raytheon in the program, especially considering it already has a well-established presence in the industry through its dedicated cybersecurity segment.

If you're looking for an even more diversified company, though, don't forget General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) , whose massive reach includes business segments that focus on everything from locomotives to appliances, medical devices, aircraft engines, finance, energy infrastructure, and lighting.

So where does GE come in here? Believe it or not, the massive industrials conglomerate also has a robust military communications segment which focuses on addressing hacking threats and network sabotage. Through it, GE provides products including military-grade secure routers and switches, custom firewalls, packet encryption software, and other cyber tools dedicated to intrusion detection and prevention.

We're not going anywhere
In the end, no matter what North Korea tries to throw our way, we can rest assured knowing so many people are working hard to protect everything our country has to offer. Considering the fact there will likely always be another hostile country out there to stir up trouble, it's safe to say all five of the aforementioned companies have what it takes to secure their places in the defense market for decades to come.

For GE, however, the recent financial crisis struck a blow, but management took advantage of the market's dip to make strategic bets in energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE today. To get started, click here now.


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  • Report this Comment On March 26, 2013, at 1:10 AM, saural wrote:

    I didn't realize the Motley Fool was so heavily invested with war mongers and many of the architects of America's decline. Oh,well, I suppose war mongering is quite the profitable venture, if one values money over anything else.

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