Executive Mosaic is glad to announce Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) CEO Wes Bush as an inductee into the 2016 Wash100 — Executive Mosaic’s annual selection of the most influential voices in the government contracting arena.
Bush has led the Falls Church, Va.-based aerospace and defense contractor as chief executive since January 2010 and also holds the titles of president and chairman of the board of directors, the latter of which he added in July 2011.
Defense News ranked Northrop as the world’s sixth-largest defense contractor in the publication’s 2015 list of the globe’s top 100 weapons makers and switched positions with General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) from the 2014 ranking.
During Bush’s tenure, Northrop has emphasized return of capital to shareholders through aggressive stock repurchase plans as the company bought back $3.2 billion in shares during 2015.
Earnings per share jumped 62 percent over the six full years of his leadership, while the company’s EPS figure for 2015 exceeded Wall Street’s consensus expectation and last year’s by 6 percent.
“Our capital deployment priorities continue to be investing in our business, managing the balance sheet, maintaining a competitive dividend and returning excess cash to our shareholders through share repurchases,” Bush told investors in July 2015.
The company said $4.3 billion was left on its current stock buyback authorization as of the year’s end, while shares in Northrop rose 30 percent in 2015 and have climbed 342 percent between 2010 and 2015.
In October 2015, Northrop scored one of the most-anticipated defense contracts since 2001’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter award when the Air Force selected the company to build the service branch’s Long Range Strike Bomber under a multi-year contract that could be worth as much as $50 billion total.
Northrop could build up to 100 bombers if the Air Force’s decision is upheld by the Government Accountability Office, which was reviewing the contract selection as of this article’s publication.
The Air Force announced its choice of Northrop after markets closed Oct. 27 and the company subsequently held its third quarter earnings call the next morning, when Bush declined comment on the bomber program’s specifics but addressed one question from an investor that wanted to know if the award could cause a “rejiggering” of the defense industrial base.
“I do not believe that we are in a situation that perhaps we were in in the 1990s where single program decisions can cause precipitous actions by any of the players in the industrial base,” Bush said.
“We are today in a very different configuration because of the consolidation that occurred through the 1990s and the early part of the last decade.”
Shares in Northrop jumped 5 percent the day after the Air Force’s announcement.
Bush joined Northrop upon its 2002 acquisition of TRW and has since held roles such as chief operating officer, chief financial officer and space technology president.
Executive Mosaic congratulates Wes Bush and the Northrop Grumman team for their selection to receive this award.