What happened

Shares of Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) rose 4.76% on Monday, as the F-35 manufacturer gained altitude along with the broader market. Investors are feeling optimistic thanks to some promising early results on a potential coronavirus vaccine, lifting hopes that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be behind us.

So what

As industrial stocks go, Lockheed Martin has weathered the pandemic pretty well. The stock is down 3% year to date, beating the S&P 500 by about 5 percentage points. Global production and supply chains have been affected somewhat by the pandemic and the resulting shelter-in-place orders, but the company managed to post first-quarter earnings that came in ahead of expectations.

Two Lockheed Martin fighters flying in formation.

Image source: Lockheed Martin.

Still, there's risk to the business from the pandemic, and Lockheed Martin investors have every reason to want to see it resolved as soon as possible. On its first-quarter earnings call, the company warned it expects disruptions to its businesses in the months to come, and tempered full-year expectations as a result.

Defense contractors also need to be concerned that the government response to the pandemic will drain resources that could have otherwise gone to other areas including Pentagon spending, thus deferring future military orders or potentially causing certain programs to be canceled.

Now what

It is worth cautioning that those vaccine trial results that had markets rocketing higher on Monday were from a preliminary, early-stage trial, and we have a long way to go before there is a vaccine ready for distribution. Biotech is full of stories of promising early results that cannot be replicated in future trials, so it is important we don't declare the crisis resolved based on those initial results.

That said, Lockheed Martin looked like a pretty good place to take shelter from the market volatility even without a vaccine. The company has a $144 billion backlog of orders and exposure to areas that the Pentagon has prioritized. There's no reason Lockheed Martin shares shouldn't climb higher in the weeks and quarters to come regardless of how the vaccine trials end up.

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