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BUSINESS NEWS 03/02/05

27 Jan 05. Lockheed (LMT: news, chart, profile)received $20.7bn in contracts in 2004. The No. 2 recipient was Boeing Co. (BA: news, chart, profile), at
$17.1bn while Northrop Grumman (NOC: news, chart, profile) was in third position with $11.9bn. General Dynamics (GD: news, chart, profile) came in fourth at $9.6bn; Raytheon had $8.5bn in work. Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop were the top three contractors last year. In fiscal 2003, Lockheed had $21.9bn in contracts while Boeing had $17.3bn; Northrop had $11.1bn. Overall, there were $21.7bn more prime contracts in 2004 than the year before, for a total of $230.7bn. Halliburton (HAL: news, chart, profile) , the highest placed non-weapons maker with considerable contracts in support of military operations in the Middle East, had $8bn in work in fiscal 2004, putting the company in sixth position. In 2003, Halliburton had just $3.9bn. United Technologies (UTX: news, chart, profile) brought in $5.1bn. Science Applications International Corp., which is privately held, had $2.5bn in contracts. Rounding out the list, Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC: news, chart, profile) and health care giant Humana (HUM: news, chart, profile) got $2.4bn in Pentagon work.

01 Feb 05. Denis Ranque has about two months to come up with a strategic plan for Thales. After that, the boss of the French defence and civil electronics group risks seeing his options severely limited. For with Noel Forgeard’s move from Airbus to EADS some time in the spring, Mr Ranque is likely to face intense renewed pressure to merge with the Franco-German group. Thales, ideally, would prefer to remain independent, pursuing its growth through specific industrial alliances and its “multi domestic” strategy in countries such as the UK and Australia as well as France. Unfortunately, its biggest shareholder, the French government, wants it to play a prime role in defence consolidation. Despite its strong political promoters, an EADS merger risks being more value destroying than enhancing. An alternative merger with the new Snecma-Sagem combination seems too late. This leaves a fourth option: an electronics partnership with Italy’s Finmeccanica. Fresh from its spectacular success in the US, where the Agusta-Westland helicopter has just been picked by the White House, a deal with the Italians looks increasingly attractive. Thales is already the UK’s largest defence supplier after BAE Systems. Finmeccanica is the third. The Italians recently parted company with BAE and are looking for a new strategic ally. Not surprisingly, Mr Ranque has been visiting Rome. It is not the first time the French and Italians have flirted. But if they want to establish a lasting romance, both sides must move fast. EADS and Mr Forgeard are lurking in the wings. (Source: FT)

23 Jan 05. Motorola Inc.’s venture capital arm aims to boost its investments to more than $100m this year, betting on technologies including automotive electronics, high-speed wireless communications, and advanced optical systems, its chief told Reuters. Warren Holtsberg, 54, the corporate vice president in charge of the division, said in a recent interview that Motorola Ventures wants to make its parent more competitive in technologies that support advanced networks and electronics. Motorola Ventures has averaged about $100m in investments each year. Last year, it took stakes in some 25 start-ups, including KXEN, a predictive modeling software developer, SkyBitz, a maker of satellite fleet tracking systems, and Camero, which builds radar imaging. It has some 70 holdings. (Source: Reuters)

02 Feb 05. FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:FLIR – News) announced a net earnings for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2004 increase of 61% to $24.1m, or $0.31 per diluted share, after giving effect to the two-for-one stock split effective as of February 2, 2005. This compares to net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2003 of $15.0m, or $0.21 per diluted share when adjusted for the two-for-one st

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