U.K. set to order 14 F-35 jets; LMT to focus on foreign sales

|By:, SA News Editor

The U.K. could announce an order for 14 Lockheed Martin (LMT -1.4%) F-35 fighter jets next week, Reuters reports.

The booking, which would be for the vertical-takeoff F-35B variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, would be Britain's first firm order for the plane since it committed to purchase 48 aircraft in 2012. The country has so far received three training jets.

The deal ties in nicely with Lockheed's focus, as expressed by CFO Bruce Tanner today following the company's Q4 report, to grow its foreign business. Bookings from abroad accounted for 23% of orders and 17% of revenues last year, In 2014, Lockheed expects sales to increase a "little under 20%."

Back in the U.S., Tanner hopes that 2014 will mark a "bottoming out" of military spending, especially following recent budget agreements that eased the effect of automatic cuts. The sequestration hurt Lockheed's earnings last year.

Banner also says that Lockheed's forecast for an EPS increase in 2014 is linked to an improvement in the impact of the firm's pension obligations, due to a higher discount rate and lower liabilities.