Oh, this one we like. “This one” is everything in terms of aerospace, national security, space exploration and weapons, all in one. Lockheed does everything it can be done to win these largely profitable government contracts. This company and its stock are beyond greatness.
Let’s put “Martin” aside for a moment because Lockheed got its last name only in 1995 after it had merged with Martin Marietta that used to be quite a competitor in the last century. With that figured out, let’s get to the place where this beautiful air-based story began.
First, the company was known as the Lockheed Corporation. It all goes back as far as 1926 when the company was founded by a man named Allan Loughead who was accompanied by his brother Malcolm.
Loughead’s background, actions and beliefs had been very similar to those of Howard Hughes.
Not to mention, the engineering brothers had built an aircraft company before Lockheed but it did not go as well as planned and was operating only for 8 years. After this unfortunate ending of their first company, brothers started doing other things like real-estate and automotive parts.
First success had come when they got funded to start a new aircraft company in California and called it Lockheed because the public could hardly pronounce Loughead, their last name. Surprisingly, the newly incorporated company did very well during the first years of operation.
Despite the company being profitable, one major investor had sold his shares no another aircraft corporation. He sold nearly 90% of his shares, nearly every single piece of the company, so, as a result, the founder Allan Loughead stepped down from the company.
Lockheed was now being controlled mainly by the Detroit Aircraft Company which was not really a big deal at that time and didn’t have a clear vision for the future. Any company lacking vision would later be crushed and the 1929 global economic recession had proved this statement.
So, Detroit Aircraft went bankrupt very soon as the markets started plunging. However, there had been some pretty great people out there in the wild west of business.
The one group of greats was a pile of investors, quite revolutionary investors who were engineers and aviators themselves.
These guys had purchased this hopeless Detroit company. Robert Gross, a businessman who specialized in aviation had taken the “chairman card” to lead the company and soon renamed it to the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.
A notable, very successful and first aircraft built by the company was Lockheed Vega, a machine which let the greatest people like Amelia Earhart set records in the air and win people’s hearts from all over the world.
After massive success of the Vega model, the company started developing double engine aircraft and called them “Electras”. These kinds of planes had soon completely taken over the world with a large volume of press releases of record attempts and features in films.
Then, the Second World-War came and was like a Christmas period for Lockheed. During this time, the company had developed a phenomenal airplane called P-38 Lightning which till this day is widely recognized and respected by the aviation community.
Although there have been problems with its wing design which made the plane a bit unstable because the wings were not shaped backwards for high speeds, it was the fastest and most dangerous aircraft out there.
This machine is known to have been frightening Germans at all times during the WW2.
Between the great wars, the company had sold its aircraft even to the future enemies of the US, the Japanese. A lot of them. When the need for actually fighting the Japanese arose, Lockheed’s P-38 was the main executor in the field, none other than this model did eliminate the largest number of enemy aircraft.
P-38 lightning was just terrific and was able to do preposterous things in the air in terms of maneuvering, speed firing bullets and dropping bombs. This model will definitely remain in people’s hearts as a war hero for a long time.
One of the first commercial aircraft for civilian passengers after the war was Lockheed’s L-049 Constellation. This model was mainly used and commercialized by TWA, probably the most well-known and respected airlines at that time.
Just like Douglas DC-3, had become one of the most iconic machines of all time. The aircraft had such great speed and efficiency at that time that it practically laid down rules for other companies like Boeing and Douglas to keep up on.
The company had become an authority, a leader in aviation.
After the wars, a massive efforts were being put in jet aircraft development as the engineers got to know that it was possible to compress air, mix it with a type of fuel and make an airplane go lightning-fast.
Lockheed, of course, was one of the first companies who started its developments of jets. This was a great time of great demand to build those new fast things as the Cold War started.
Obviously, the company had some secret endeavors which helped build stealth, undetectable and the fastest aircraft on the planet.
These “secret endeavors” of the company had been named Skunk Works and are still operating till this day. It would be incredible to see what the brightest engineers are working on these days inside those timeless hangars.
The project had developed the fastest aircraft on the planet in the sixties and it still holds the medal after nearly 60 years. Another very notable machine is Lockheed U-2 spying plane which had been developed even earlier than the aforementioned fastest one.
The spy aircraft was able to be flown over the enemy territories and remain completely undetected by a radar on any other device. An even more notable project by Lockheed was C-130 Hercules which had been in operation ever since its first developments in 1950s.
Nowadays, the US Air Force is still widely using this iconic airplane because of its efficiency and ability to carry large amounts of cargo. During that time, the first supersonic aircraft capable of Mach 2 speed was introduced by none other than this company.
Throughout the decades of the Cold War, Lockheed and its subsidiaries like Skunk Works had developed multiple different models for undetected and stealth flight.
It is absolutely amazing to know that the majority of these majestic models and especially, experimental prototypes were built with a minimal amount of resources and low volumes of funding.
Only the most terrific engineers could have developed aircraft like the A-12 Archangel, SR-71 Blackbird or F-117 Nighthawk.
During the Cold War, or, the second half of the century the government contracts kept flooding in for the company and the revenues were sky high. The governments of multiple countries were purchasing Lockheed airplanes during the entire 20th century.
Starting with the WW1, then WW2, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam War, Iraq, Afghanistan, you get the point. Sales surged even more when the company introduced the famous fighter jets in the nineties F-22 Raptor and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Talking about the 90s, a very important deal was made by Lockheed. In 1995, the company had finally decided to merge with Martin Marietta and soon after the deal went through. The company had moved to Maryland, Martin’s headquarters and the joint corporation then became the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
As Marietta was also a large player in the air industry, it had brought a lot of valuable stuff to the table including the famous Viking satellites, Sandia laboratories, ICMB’s and oxidizers for the space shuttle.
Lockheed Martin now became a big fighter itself in the space-race with all these rockets, satellites and new devices that it got with Marietta. To capitalize on space eve more, the company had made some thoughtful acquisitions soon after the merger.
There had been some amount of reports and lawsuits for alleged corruption in the company in the seventies but the company wasn’t that bureaucratic at that time. More allegations came in only in the 2000s and 2010s, some time after the merger with Martin Marietta.
There has definitely been a change in the management style after the merger, the product quality didn’t change, just the operations and the way the company was organized. Lockheed “got in bed” with another giant in the industry so, what else could expected after all.
Let’s now go ahead and take a look at the company stock. LMT actually started its rapid growth during the time when talks about the merger started in the nineties. However, at the very end of the century the stock had some hardship.
Since the IPO, the stock is up nearly 40,500% despite having about 4 dull years with no growth after the 2008 global economic crisis. Not many companies have had their stocks grow that high so rapidly.
A relatively small number of investors actually look at aerospace and defense companies when analyzing stocks although the pay from these government contracts, one of the main revenue sources for Lockheed Martin, is insanely large. Especially when the company is expanding into the space industry.
In conclusion, this corporation is THE defense contractor which can hardly be beaten by any other company. Multiple decades have shown what brilliant engineers, hungry businessmen and great vision for the future can achieve.
Although other players like SpaceX or Boeing are difficult ones to be competing with, Lockheed Martin Corporation will always win the fighter jet, well, in the future, the fighter drone market.
Skunk Works are getting back to work very soon as well, it is safe to say that innovation will start flooding in like never before.