You read Raytheon's (NYSE:RTN) earnings report last week, and you heard about its likelihood of retreating from peak profit margins. But unless you've also listened to management's post-earnings conference call with the analysts, you don't have quite the complete story on Raytheon.
So let's see if we can fix that. Here are five more things you need to know about Raytheon.
Remember that big Saudi missile deal?
Earlier this month, Congress was notified of a $15 billion sale of seven THAAD fire units and related equipment to Saudi Arabia. Critical to the THAAD system capability is a long-range TPY-2 radar which Raytheon produces. With each fire unit having one TPY-2 radar, we believe the opportunity for us is in the $3 billion to $4 billion range. -- Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy
Remember how last week Saudi Arabia inked a deal to buy THAAD missile defense systems from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon? The total value of that deal was estimated at $15 billion -- but we weren't quite sure at the time just how the loot would be divvied up. Now we know that Raytheon's take will be $3 billion to $4 billion from building the radars alone.
Incidentally, we can now also fix a price tag to future Raytheon TPY-2 radar sales, even when no price is stated in the press release. "$3 billion to $4 billion" divided by seven units equals about a $500 million retail price for TPY-2.
And remember the deal before that?
I'm excited about the strong customer interest we're generating in some of our newest technologies ... One example is our new SkyHunter [short-range missile defense] system, a collaboration between Raytheon and Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. ... SkyHunter is based on a combat-proven Iron Dome system, which has more than 1,500 intercepts to date. The SkyHunter variant recently completed successful testing at White Sands and is available for procurement and rapid deployment. -- Kennedy
We've been hearing about Raytheon's partnership with Rafael on Israel's Iron Dome project for nearly half a decade. Encouraged by Iron Dome's success in protecting Israeli cities from Palestinian rocket barrages earlier this decade, in 2014 Raytheon inked a deal to supply parts for Rafael's Tamir interceptor missiles. By 2016, Raytheon was being described as a full-fledged "partner" in development of Iron Dome. Now it seems this will finally bear fruit in the form of a product Raytheon can sell on its own.
Built as part of a 40/60 Rafael/Raytheon collaboration, SkyHunter (also known as "Iron SkyHunter") is called a US-certified version of Israel's Iron Dome. With a record at least as impressive as Raytheon's own Patriot system, it should sell well.
But speaking of Patriot ...
Since about 2015, there has been over 220 tactical ballistic missiles fired in the [Middle East North Africa] region. The ones that were headed toward areas where there are civilians was over 150 and those 150 were all shot down by Patriot systems. So the system is working very well in that region, which is causing additional demand. -- Kennedy
Of course, the idea of marketing an Israeli-designed missile defense system to Raytheon's Arab clients in the Mideast could raise all sorts of objections -- on all sides. Luckily for Raytheon, its own Patriot missile system has a great reputation in the region, and continues to rack up big sales numbers. In May, for example, the United Arab Emirates placed a $2 billion order for Patriot missiles to restock its arsenal.
Another product that was well received at AUSA was our vehicle-mounted High-Energy Laser, which can knock drones out of the sky, an increasingly important capability in theater. We have already begun field tests of this advanced capability and we will be demonstrating it in an upcoming U.S. Army event in December. -- Kennedy
All of this goes to demonstrate the continuing popularity of Raytheon's missile products for air defense. But this being the 21st century, we're bound to ask: "Where are the lasers? Shouldn't we have laser guns by now?"
Well as it turns out, we might -- and soon. At the 2017 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting last month, Raytheon began showing off the 25-kilowatt high energy laser that it's been developing for the Marine Corps. The weapon doesn't appear to be ready for deployment just yet, but once it is, laser anti-air defenses could quickly eclipse missiles in popularity. According to Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, even a powerful, warship-mounted laser cannon costs only "about one dollar to shoot," and thus is much more economical than even the cheapest anti-air missile.
That being the case, there's a very real risk that even if it's successful in weaponizing lasers, Raytheon could end up cannibalizing its own missile sales. Investors will want to pay close attention to how this plays out.
The outlook for sales
Book-to-bill in the third quarter was 1.11. ... 1.08 book-to-bill on a rolling four-quarters basis and our outlook for the year at 1.07, there's nothing there other than positive news relative to be able to sustain, certainly, for 2018 that 3% to 5% growth that I talked about earlier. -- Raytheon CFO Anthony F. O'Brien
That being said, Raytheon's sales don't appear to be at any immediate risk of declining. As management explains, the company is continuing to bring in more business in new contracts than goes out the door in the form of contracts fulfilled. Raytheon's backlog is growing and its book-to-bill ratio remains comfortably above 1.0. So long as this holds true, the company's sales are pretty much guaranteed to keep growing in the future.
At least until the lasers arrive.