Monday, October 27, 2014

MDA Promotes Recent Wins as Preliminary to Quarterly Conference Call

          by Brian Orlotti

Publicly traded companies have traditionally preceded their quarterly earnings calls with successive announcements of newly won contracts as a means of exciting investors. Richmond, BC-based satellite powerhouse MacDonald, Dettwiler (MDA) is no exception to this truism and has announced several new contract awards in the lead up to its third quarter earnings conference, which will take place on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm PDT (5:30 pm EDT). These include:

  • The October 21st, 2014 announcement that MDA had signed a $6.4Mln USD ($7.2Mln CDN) contract with the US Air Force (USAF) to further enhance the flight path safety system which aids the design of airport approach and departure flight paths. As outlined in the October 21st, 2014 Ottawa Citizen article, "MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates receives more work from U.S. Air Force," the original system was developed by MDA for the USAF and deployed worldwide in 2004. The new contract will enhance the current system's capabilities by fitting aircraft with satellite-based navigation equipment. The total value of contracts awarded to date by the US Air Force for flight path equipment is about $20.2Mln USD ($22.7Mln CDN).

  • The October 22nd, 2014 announcement that MDA had been awarded multiple contracts with "undisclosed customers in the oil and gas, and mining sectors" to deliver RADARSAT-2 surface movement monitoring products and services that "accurately detect and report the extent of surface movement in localized areas." Although not explicitly stated in the October 22nd, 2014 CNW press release, "MDA provides surface movement monitoring solution to key industries," these customers would likely be firms similar to the Vancouver based Tech Resources, which promotes a range of "diversified" resource management capabilities as part of its sales pitch. Oddly enough, while focused on mining and resource management, Tech is also one of the Canadian firms listed on the NewSpace Global list of actively traded public companies which make use of space derived technologies, primarily because of its use of Earth imaging tools to track minerals and other resources.

  • The October 23rd, 2014 announcement that MDA had signed two contracts worth approximately $10Mln CDN with Beijing-based EarthSTAR Inc, a subsidiary of EarthView Image Inc, a Chinese geographic information systems (GIS) developer. As outlined in the October 23rd, 2014 CNW press release "MDA expands RADARSAT business in China," the first contract will extend an existing 2012 non-exclusive agreement for the distribution of RADARSAT-2 imagery data by Chinese government and industry customers, and grant EarthSTAR exclusive distribution rights to RADARSAT-2 data in China beginning November 11th, 2014. The second contract will have MDA construct a ground station in China to receive and process data from the RADARSAT-2 satellite. This station is expected to come online in late 2015. Launched in 2007, the RADARSAT-2 satellite (built by MDA under contract from the Canadian Space Agency) utilizes synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to provide high-resolution imagery for marine surveillance, ice monitoring, disaster management, environmental monitoring, resource management and mapping. 
The call will follow the release of MDA's Q3 2014 financial results at 2 pm PDT.

Brian Orlotti.
MDA continues its strategy of aggressively pursuing contracts with both governments and commercial clients. With a string of successes this quarter (and likely more on the way), the company continues to ride high in the stratosphere of the space industry.

Brian Orlotti is a Toronto-based IT professional and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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