General Dynamics downgraded by Credit Suisse: 2019 forecast is 'well behind defense peers'

  • Credit Suisse says General Dynamics is "well behind defense peers" in projected growth this year.
  • In addition to the "disappointing" forecast, Credit Suisse's downgrade was driven by a re-evaluation of two issues: A big acquisition and competitive risks.
  • CSRA, a massive IT services firm, was "purchased at a toppy valuation," Spingarn said.
The USS Truxtun (DDG-103) destroyer sits in dry dock at the General Dynamics Corp. NASSCO shipyard facility on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The USS Truxtun (DDG-103) destroyer sits in dry dock at the General Dynamics Corp. NASSCO shipyard facility on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

Credit Suisse downgraded General Dynamics shares to neutral from outperform on Friday, saying the company is "well behind defense peers" in projected growth this year.

"In the greatest peacetime defense upcycle since the Reagan administration, GD is guiding to topline growth in its defense businesses of just 3.5% in 2019," Credit Suisse analyst Robert Spingarn wrote in a note to investors.

In addition to the "disappointing" forecast, Spingarn said Credit Suisse's downgrade was driven by a re-evaluation of two issues for General Dynamics: The recent acquisition of CSRA and accelerated risks from competitors.

CSRA, a massive IT services firm, was "purchased at a toppy valuation," Spingarn said. The deal is "well short" of Credit Suisse's accretion expectations, he said. Additionally, Spingarn said "this acquisition has significantly reduced GD's balance sheet flexibility and may limit future shareholder returns."

Credit Suisse also sees "rising competitive threats" for General Dynamics to all of its major businesses: Aerospace, information technology and mission systems.

General Dynamics shares were unchanged in premarket trading from Thursday's close of $172.10 a share. Credit Suisse has a price target of $184 on General Dynamics shares.