The study by analysts Deloitte took into account 24 metrics of financial performance. A total of 105 aerospace and defense companies with revenue greater than $500 million in 2012 were included in the study.
The 16.2 percent increase represented $38.4 billion.
"The global A&D market is shifting, and we may see the commercial aerospace segment reach parity with defense in the next few years, after many years of being overshadowed by military spending," said Tom Captain, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and global aerospace and defense sector group.
"Our study found that European A&D companies are recovering from systemically lower financial performance compared to U.S. A&D companies, although operating margins and return on invested capital continue to lag for European A&D companies."
Deloitte said the global defense sector is heavily weighted towards the U.S. defense sector, which is impacted by budget reductions -- $487 billion across 10 years under the Budget Control Act of 2011, and an additional $42 billion annual budget reduction associated with the automatic "sequester," which took effect on March 1, 2013.
"Operating profits declined for this segment by only 1.6 percent and operating margins were flat, considering that defense companies had significant one-time charges, reflecting aggressive cost cutting in the face of declining revenues," it said. "Innovations in cyber-security, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies, among other areas, offer attractive pathways for a return to growth."
The study noted that Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Airbus Commercial delivered 1,189 aircraft last year, the highest production level achieved in large commercial aircraft history. In 201