Bidding closed yesterday on a contract that could mean $11.7 billion in additional revenues for megadefense contractor Lockheed Martin
As we relayed late last year, Euro-defense rival EADS pulled out of the multibillion-dollar competition to replace Norway's aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets, leaving just two contestants for the prize: Lockheed and Sweden's Gripen International (owned by Saab AB). Yesterday, both contestants submitted final bids to supply either 48 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters or four-dozen JAS Gripens. Norway intends to announce the victor as early as this year, but deliveries (and revenues thereon) should not be expected to start rolling in until deliveries begin in 2016.
While you might expect Gripen to be the odds-on favorite for selling fighters to neighboring Norway, it's worth keeping in mind the reason that EADS (also from "the neighborhood") pulled out of this competition back in December: According to Norwegian media, at least, EADS thought the bidding process was rigged in favor of the Americans.
What should investors keep in mind when monitoring this process?
First and most obviously, Lockheed would love to win this contest. The rapidly deteriorating dollar has raised the value of the Norway contract -- estimated at $10.7 billion just four months ago -- by a cool $1 billion over just the past four months. It's now worth more than a full quarter's revenue to the aerospace giant. But a Lockheed win would also be good news for the other members of its bidding team: Northrop Grumman
Finally, and bigger picture, knowing who ultimately wins the contract will give us one more clue on the big question of the day: Is selling goods priced in "Monopoly money" a good thing for U.S. exporters ... or a great thing?
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