Goldman Adds Lockheed Martin to 'Conviction List'

The recent weakness in shares of defense sector giant Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) presents an attractive buy opportunity, according to one team of analysts on the Street. 

In a note to clients on Wednesday, bulls at Goldman Sachs upgraded shares of the global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technology company from neutral to buy, as outlined by CNBC. Goldman's Noah Poponak added Lockheed Martin stock to the investment bank's "conviction list," among the firm's favorite equity picks. 

Lockheed to Jump 25%, Pullback Makes for Attractive Valuation

The analyst attributed his upbeat outlook to the thesis that Lockheed is expanding the breadth of its outgrowth differentiators in the defense market, a sector which the firm already favors. As the broader markets experiences a level heightened level of volatility in light of a handful of factors including rising trade tensions, the defense sector has been widely viewed as a safety bet. 

"Margins can expand from current levels in every segment. Free cash can convert at a high rate for a long time. We see upside to FactSet consensus estimates, and the recent pullback in shares makes valuation more attractive," wrote Poponak. 

Trading down about 1.7% at $316.01 on Wednesday afternoon, Lockheed Martin stock reflects a 1.6% decline year-to-date (YTD) compared to the broader S&P 500's 1.8% return in 2018. 

Separately, Bloomberg reports that Lockheed Martin's $15 billion sale of its THAAD missile system to Saudi Arabia may be at risk in the aftermath of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. During Lockheed's earnings call this Tuesday, the company's CEO said the THAAD deal is "the largest order we've been waiting on" and that the Bethesda, Maryland-base company, the largest U.S. defense contractor, is "not sure when that will take place."

Moving forward, while a major deal faces a political road block, Lockheed Martin's beaten down stock looks like a solid play thanks to improving fundamentals and earnings upside. 

Goldman's elevated 12-month price target for Lockheed Martin shares at $394 reflects a near 25% upside from current levels. 

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