Why the Austal (ASX:ASB) share price is lifting today

A day of green after months of rough seas for the Austal share price…

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The Austal Limited (ASX: ASB) share price is finding its feet on Thursday. This follows the appointment of a new president of the company’s United States operations.

In morning trade, shares in the defence vessel constructor are lurching higher. Currently, the Austal share price is fetching $1.76, up 4.45%. However, this is still a far cry from its position only a month ago. The company’s value has been stuck in a downtrend, resulting in a near 30% erosion over the past 4 weeks.

Let’s take a look at the latest appointment, as well as some developments in the Australian military space.

Fresh-ish eyes at the helm

They say change can be as good as a holiday. Austal shareholders are likely hoping this holds true with the most recent change in the company’s ranks.

According to its announcement, Austal’s board of directors have appointed Rusty Murgaugh as president of Austal USA. This decision was effective as of 9 September 2021, putting Murgaugh at the helm for a week already.

The newly appointed president began his time at Austal in 2017 as chief financial officer. While the announcement marks a ‘newly’ appointed president, Murgaugh has been serving as interim president since February 2021. During this time, the now President led an operational expansion, adding steel shipbuilding to the company’s manufacturing capability.

Commenting on the appointment, Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said:

Rusty has overseen a number of significant, positive developments at Austal USA in a short period of time, including the start of construction of new infrastructure to enable steel shipbuilding; and new contracts that position the company exceptionally well for further growth. I congratulate him on his appointment and look forward to working with him to achieve further success in the US and international markets.

New defence developments

In other defence-related news, reports from ABC News state that Australia has announced plans to acquire a nuclear submarine fleet. Although there is no direct connection between Austal and this announcement, investors might be speculating over the potential ripple effects to defence shares. However, there is nothing set in stone to give surety for influencing the Austal share price.

The move by Australia is part of its newly formed security partnership, known as AUKUS. As you might have guessed from the acronym, this involves Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Speaking at the announcement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated:

Over the next 18 months, we will work together to seek to determine the best way forward to achieve this. This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia.

Austal share price snapshot

It has been a slobber-knocker of a year for the Austal share price. Over the past 12 months, the company’s shares have lost roughly 46% of their value. Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has conjured up a 25.4% gain.

As a result, Austal currently trades on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 7.72 times.

Should you invest $1,000 in Austal right now?

Before you consider Austal, you'll want to hear this.

Motley Fool Investing expert Scott Phillips just revealed what he believes are the 5 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Austal wasn't one of them.

The online investing service he’s run for over a decade, Motley Fool Share Advisor, has provided thousands of paying members with stock picks that have doubled, tripled or even more.* And right now, Scott thinks there are 5 stocks that are better buys.

*Returns as of January 13th 2022

Motley Fool contributor Mitchell Lawler has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and has recommended Austal Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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