L-3's good defense is its best commercial offense. L-3 Communications Holdings provides products and services to the government based on Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), including systems for satellite, avionics (aircraft electronics), and marine communications. Products include simulation, training, and night vision equipment, and L-3 also provides aircraft maintenance and modernization services. The US government, primarily the Department of Defense (DoD), accounts for nearly 70% of its business, but L-3 is expanding its commercial offerings. The company derives all of its income from operating subsidiary L-3 Communications Corporation (L-3).
The company operates through 263 locations consisting of manufacturing facilities, administration, research and development and other properties throughout the US and internationally. The US is its largest market, accounting for 76% of total revenue in 2015.
L-3 operates through three main segments: Electronic Systems, Communication Systems, and Aerospace Systems. Its most lucrative segment is Electronic Systems, which makes a variety of components, subsystems, and products and generates 41% of its total sales each year. Aerospace Systems generates 40%, and Communication Systems accounts for the remainder.
Subsidiaries include L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, L-3 Avionics Systems, L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, L-3 Communications Canada, L-3 Insight Technology, Interstate Electronics Corporation, L-3 Global Communications Solutions, and L-3 Fuzing & Ordnance Systems.
Sales and Marketing
The company’s sales are predominantly derived from contracts with agencies of, and prime system contractors to, the US government. In 2015 the Department of Defense (DOD) and other government agencies accounted for 70% of its total revenue; the remainder of revenue was contributed by commercial (13%) and foreign governments (17%).
L-3 has seen its net sales and profits slowly diminish over the last five years. Revenues dipped by 14% from $12.1 billion in 2014 to $10.5 billion in 2015. The company also posted a net loss of $240 million in 2015, its first loss in at least 10 years.
The loss was attributed to the selling of its former National Security Solutions (NSS) business in early 2016. This led to the incurring of impairment charges and a loss from discontinued operations for 2015.
L-3's revenues have recently slowed due to the loss of contracts with the SOFSA, Afghanistan Ministry of Defense (MoD), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the years. It also experienced lower sales related to linguist services, training, and logistics support projects for the US Army due to the draw-down of American military forces in Iraq.
With such a major amount of business derived from the US government and DoD (the US Army and Air Force collectively account for about 70% of its total revenue), the company is vulnerable to the priorities of the Pentagon and other government agencies, which have resulted in cuts in defense spending and additional troop withdrawals from the Middle East.
In addition, the company enters into collaborative ventures with other businesses to develop new opportunities, especially in the area of providing full-service, rather than just products. Additionally, L-3 has been transitioning from providing individual products and components to bundled products and services, including logistics, MRO (maintenance, repair, and overall), and supply chain management. Its revenues from services is now neck-and-neck with that of its products, and L-3 plans to add additional services under existing programs.
To focus on this strategy, in early 2016 L-3 sold its former National Security Solutions (NSS) business to CACI International for $550 million.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2016, the company acquired MacDonald Humphrey (Automation) for £224 million. The acquired business will be integrated into the security and detection systems division of L-3.
In 2015 L-3 acquired UK-headquartered CTC Aviation Group (now known as L-3 CTC Ltd) for $220 million. L-3 CTC is a global airline pilot training and crew resourcing specialist catering to major airlines and retail customers globally. The acquisition expanded L-3’s Commercial Aviation Training business.
In 2014 L-3 picked up Virginia-based Data Tactics Corporation -- a specialized provider of Big Data analytics and cloud computing products serving the US DOD -- for $57 million and renamed it L-3 Data Tactics.