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3 Top Defense Stocks to Buy Now

Madeleine Johnson

The defense industry has experienced quite the boom since President Trump took office. Back in February, he initially unveiled plans to significantly increase federal spending related to national security, stoking a rally in defense stocks. The president is seeking $54 billion to spend on a variety of defense-related systems.

Then there’s the multi-billion-dollar arms deal reached just last month with Saudi Arabia. The transaction was a way to both improve a decades-long alliance with the world’s largest oil exporter, as well as to potentially lead to additional sales for other countries in the region. Defense giants Lockheed Martin LMT—whose technology was part of the agreement—Boeing BA, and Raytheon RTN will all likely benefit.

As defense stocks and funds like the iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF ITA continue to gain this year, let’s take a look at three top picks for your portfolio.

Curtiss-Wright Corp. CW

Curtiss-Wright is a global diversified product manufacturer and service provider for the commercial, industrial, defense, and energy markets. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company was once the largest aircraft manufacturer in the U.S., but now specializes in actuators, aircraft controls, valves, and surface treatment services.

The company is a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank, and growth projections for 2017 look promising. Curtiss-Wright expects earnings to gain 6.7% for the current year, with six positive analyst revisions in the last 60 days and one upward revision in the last seven days, compared to none lower for both time frames. Sales are expected to grow 4.19% in the same time frame.

Curtiss-Wright has beaten earnings expectations in the last four consecutive quarters, and has an average earnings surprise of 5.11%.

Northrop Grumman Corp. NOC

Northrop Grumman provides innovative solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, and information technology for the U.S. and international militaries, government and commercial customers as a prime contractor, principal subcontractor, team member, or preferred supplier. Northrop is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

Sitting at a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks Rank, Northrop has started off strong in 2017. Both its earnings and revenue figures for the first quarter surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate, and it looks like the rest of the year will continue to see improved growth. Northrop expects year-over-year earnings growth of 11.39% for the current year, and sales growth of about 3.3% for the same time frame; eight analysts have revised their earnings estimates upward in the last 60 days compared to none lower.

Northrop also has a history of beating expectations, soaring past consensus estimates over the past four consecutive quarters. The defense contractor has an average earnings surprise of almost 11%.

Rockwell Collins Inc. COL

Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rockwell Collins is a world leader in providing aviation electronics and airborne and mobile communications products and systems for commercial and military customers.

Boasting a #1 (Strong Buy) on the Zacks Rank, Rockwell Collins is expected to see positive returns this year. Earnings are projected to grow about 5.25% year-over-year for the current year, and three analysts have upped their estimates in the last 60 days, compared to none lower in the same time frame. Sales are expected to increase almost 30% for the current year as well.

Looking at its earnings history, Rockwell Collins has beaten expectations in the last four consecutive quarters; the company has an average earnings surprise of 2.45%.

Will You Make a Fortune on the Shift to Electric Cars?

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With battery prices plummeting and charging stations set to multiply, one company stands out as the #1 stock to buy according to Zacks research.

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