To meet the omnipresent threat of terrorism, federal security organizations, as well as local police departments, are increasingly adopting airborne surveillance devices.
Civil libertarians say that it smacks of Big Brother, but it is an irreversible trend that offers a market-beating investment opportunity.
With a market capitalization of $4.91 billion, FLIR Systems designs, manufactures and markets sensor systems that enhance awareness and perception for private- and public-sector organizations.
As homeland security funding gets boosted under President Donald Trump, this company can look forward to an extended pipeline of contracts, making the stock a recession-resistant play in a broader market that is increasingly vulnerable to a correction.
The company also provides camera gimbals for helicopters that are operated by Hollywood directors and news outfits.
In its burgeoning industry, FLIR Systems is a familiar brand name. Indeed, the word "FLIR" has become a generic term for airborne surveillance devices.
Since Nov. 9, the company's stock has jumped 8.85%, as traders expect the company to benefit from Trump's defense and security spending increases, especially as related to border patrol and immigration surveillance. Growing civil unrest in some U.S. urban areas also is fueling demand for the company's products among police departments and SWAT teams.
The company's advanced thermal imaging systems are used for a broad range of security applications, including airborne and ground-based surveillance; border and maritime patrol; the detection of biological, chemical, nuclear explosive and radiological devices; drug interdiction; environmental monitoring; and search and rescue.
Competitors include defense behemoths that are more diversified and offer solid but nonetheless slower growth, including BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. By contrast, FLIR Systems is a pure play on this unstoppable trend and a mid-cap with greater room for appreciation.
The average analyst forecast is for fourth-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share, compared with 47 cents a share a year earlier. For the full year, earnings are projected at $1.61 a share, compared with $1.57 a share a year earlier.
Next year's earnings are pegged at $1.79 a share.
The stock's trailing 12-month price-earnings ratio is 28.3, seemingly pricey compared with the trailing P/E of about 19 for its industry, but the premium is worth it, considering the company's outsize growth prospects. Earnings growth for the next five years is estimated at a robust 15.95% on an average annualized basis.
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John Persinos is an analyst with Investing Daily. At the time of publication, he owned stock in RTN.