Every two years more than a 150,000 trade visitors and 200,000 members of the public walk through the exhibitions at Le Bourget, otherwise known as the Paris Air Show. Among those in the crowd are senior company officials and 290 official government and military delegations from 100 countries. It is an easy way to meet with global colleagues instead of having to fly around the world. As you can expect, a lot of deals get done. In 2011, deals were announced for more than 1200 aircraft sold at the show totaling more than $100 billion.
In order to get a leg up on the competition for all the valuable press exposure one receives at the show, new business deals or those little known are announced. Overall, more than 3000 journalists and media representatives from all over the world cover the show. And this being the 50th anniversary of the show, one can anticipate that additional attention will be showered on the sector.
With international sales for defense and aerospace equipment a key reason for the resilience of defense contractors, investors and interested parties should expect heightened news flow from June 16-23, 2013 as deals are announced and discussions turn toward the sector.
What to Expect from U.S. listed companies...
In 2011, Boeing (BA) announced orders for a reported 141 planes worth $22 billion including 91 - 737s, 27 - 777s, 19 - 747-8s, and 4 - 787s. Note: historically, Airbus, a French company, saves announcements of their orders for the show so people should not read too much into the numbers in terms of market share. Addition attention will likely mention the 777x, a stretched and more fuel-efficient version of the 777 anticipated to be announced at the Dubai Air Show later in 2013.
Commercial Aircraft Suppliers
Paris is a big show for the suppliers, most of which supply both Boeing and Airbus. Companies such as Moog (MOG.A), Precision Castparts (PCP), Rockwell Collins (COL), Hexcel (HXL), and Honeywell (HON) -- all maintain a significant presence at the show and put out regularly daily releases regarding products and orders.
Helicopters and Rotorcraft
Always have a strong presence at the show and it is a highly competitive global market. Textron (TXT), which manufactures Bell-brand helicopters; United Technologies, which manufactures the Sikorsky line; and Boeing should be making a number of announcements.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
With the U.S. having demonstrated the usefulness of these systems in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are, as one would expect, in high demand from the military around the world. Expect announcements from manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Aerovironment (AVAV) as well as sensor suppliers such as L-3 (LLL) and Exelis (XLS).
The Paris Air Show is essentially a giant supermarket for everything aviation -- from the seats that go in the cockpit to the missiles the planes fire. Due to sequestration, there are no flights anticipated by U.S. military aircraft nor will they be on static display. Still much of that is "show," pomp and circumstance; and the real deals get done one-on-one in the private business chalets and that is not expected to change.
Ultimately if your investment strategy is to buy on positive news, then you should watch the next 10 days.
For historical purposes, in 2011, the sector [using the Powershares Aerospace & Defense ETF (PPA) as the benchmark] was essentially flat during the show but ran up 6.7% in the week following the show. Trading volume according to Yahoo! Finance was 4.5M shares during the show and another million in the week following it.
Additional disclosure: The author manages the SPADE Defense Index, which serves as the underlying index for the Powershares Aerospace and Defense ETF (PPA).