ATLANTA, March 10 Macquarie Research raised its
rating on defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) to
"neutral" from "underperform" on Wednesday, saying negative
news reports on the company's Joint Strike Fighter program were
poised to subside.
The U.S. Defense Department has restructured the
fighter-jet program to extend its development phase. In recent
months, concern about the project, which is the Pentagon's most
expensive weapons program, had mounted amid declining tolerance
in Washington for cost overruns and schedule delays.
"In our opinion, the period of negative news flow for the
JSF is coming to an end, and with the program re-based, we
think investors can be more comfortable with the lower risk,
but lower growth outlook," Macquarie analyst Rob Stallard said
in his note upgrading the stock.
Stallard had cut the rating on Lockheed to "underperform"
from "outperform" in December, saying the program for the
radar-evading fighter was vulnerable to cuts and delays.
Lockheed shares were up 29 cents to $82.51 in morning New
York Stock Exchange trading. The stock has risen about 9
percent so far this year.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)