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Dec 23, 2016

Trump pits Boeing, Lockheed Martin against each other on Twitter

An F/A-18 Super Hornet takes off from the desk of the nuclear-powered USS George Washington

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NEW YORK -- Shares of Boeing (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) slipped in early trading a day after a tweet from President-elect Donald Trump appeared to pit the two giants in the defence industry against one another to lower prices for government contracts.

It was just the latest targeted jab at U.S. corporations that may have led to volatile trading.

During his campaign, Trump lambasted Ford for beefing up operations abroad. He said he would not eat Oreo cookies that may soon be made in Mexico and vowed to get Apple to make iPhones in the U.S.

Now it's Boeing and Lockheed, the defence contractors, who are defending their business practices after Trump tweeted late Thursday: "Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!"

Trump tweeted earlier this month that he is looking to cut "billions" in costs for military purchases.

Boeing Co. spokesman Todd Blecher said, "We have committed to working with the president-elect and his administration to provide the best capability, deliverability and affordability."

Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland, said earlier this month that it has worked to lower the price of the F-35 one-seat fighter aircraft by more than 60 per cent and that it expects the aircraft to cost $85 million in 2019 and 2020.



The F-35 program made up 20 per cent of Lockheed's revenue of $46.1 billion last year. And U.S. government orders made up 78 per cent of its revenue last year. The F-35 program directly or indirectly supports more than 146,000 U.S. jobs, according to the company's website.

Lockheed Martin's stock declined $5.06, or 2 per cent, to $247.74 in morning trading.

Two weeks ago, Trump threatened to cancel Boeing's contract to build Air Force One because of "out of control" costs.

Boeing relies less on that contract than Lockheed does on the F-35 program, but it's shares shed 60 cents to $156.86 Friday as investors tried to regain their footing.

Trump met with the CEOs of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. Wednesday and CEOs from both companies said that they had discussed lowering costs of the F-35 and Air Force One projects.

Boeing and Lockheed are also among the companies pursuing a contract for replacing Minuteman missiles in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Spokespeople for the two companies declined to comment on whether that contract came up during the meetings this week.