Raytheon Stock Up, Will Pay
New Quarterly Dividend
By SHIRLEY A. LAZO
RAYTHEON MADE HEADLINES AROUND THE WORLD LAST MONTH when one of its Navy-fired, pinpoint-accurate missiles brought down a dying U.S. spy satellite that could have created a hazard had it struck Earth. That achievement may also have benefited the controversial U.S. missile-defense program.
At about the same time, Raytheon's Big Board-listed stock (ticker: RTN) hit a 52-week high of 67.49. Since then, it's remained aloft. Of course, defense is one of the few industries that generally can produce strong earnings in an economic slowdown. Raytheon's 10% dividend boost Wednesday was a plus for the shares, too.
The world's fifth-largest defense contractor, whose specialty is high-tech missiles and electronics, will pay a new quarterly of 28 cents a common share, up from 25.5 cents. Yield: 1.73%. Disbursement is scheduled for April 29 to investors on Raytheon's roster April 1. The stock went ex-dividend March 28. As detailed in this space March 10, rival General Dynamics (GD) has enriched its quarterly 20.7%.
"This dividend increase reflects our continued strong financial performance and our ongoing commitment to provide value to our shareholders," said Raytheon CEO William H. Swanson. The 86-year-old Waltham, Mass., company has paid dividends without interruption since 1964. Payouts resumed their climb in 2005, after having been stuck at 20 cents a share since 1996.
Uncle Sam accounts for 85% of Raytheon's annual sales, which last year totaled $21.3 billion. JPMorgan Securities recently noted that, at approximately $670 billion, defense spending represents 20% of the U.S. budget and surpasses the rest of the world's military expenditures by more than $150 billion. Morgan estimates outlay growth of 13% in fiscal 2008 and 15% in fiscal 2009. Furthermore, since 2003, says Morgan, defense contractors have increased free cash flow 125%, to $20.7 billion, and cut net debt 85%, to only $5.4 billion.
The defense sector also set a record for stock buybacks in 2007. For its part, Raytheon repurchased 28.7 million of its shares last year for $1.6 billion. At year-end 2007, it had $25.5 billion in bookings and a $36.6 billion backlog -- both records. For 2008, the company expects earnings from continuing operations of $3.65 to $3.80 a share, versus 2007's $3.31.