Mounting geopolitical threats in the Asia-Pacific region have beefed up the defense budget of countries around the world — and AllianceBernstein has named its overweight-rated stocks to play the theme. “The epicenter of global defense and security has been moving toward Asia Pacific (APAC) in recent years, prompting [the] U.S. and major European nations to gradually shift their security focus eastward,” analysts at the asset management firm wrote in a Nov. 27 note to investors. “The rising geopolitical threats in APAC has been a driver of military spending for the Western nations. In addition, APAC countries have become more important for their own military expenditures, which present some opportunities for Western defense contractors through either exports or partnerships,” they added. Quoting research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute , Bernstein said that global defense spending reached a record high of $2.2 trillion last year. A quarter of this, or around $570 billion, came from military expenditure made by countries in APAC. APAC’s defense market was worth around $275 billion is 2022, excluding spending by China and North Korea, which as Bernstein notes is inaccessible to Western contractors. This makes it the world’s largest defense market outside North America (around $900 billion) and Europe (around $400 billion, excluding Russia). Overweight-rated stocks Boeing Co — which is in the business of designing and manufacturing airplanes, rockets and satellites — is among Bernstein’s overweight-rated defense stocks. It gives the stock a price target of $272, or around 24% upside. French military aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation also made Bernstein’s ticker table, with an overweight rating and a target price of 220 euros ($240.90). This gives it an upside potential of almost 20%. Another favorite of Bernstein is global aerospace, defense and security company Northrop Grumman . The asset manager has a price target of $569 on stock, giving it potential upside of 22%. Why is defense spending on the rise? Drivers for the increased spending differ across the countries. For instance, South Korea’s defense spending is high given its longstanding tensions with neighbor North Korea. Japan plans to double its national security spending amid a worsening security environment, while Australia has penciled a seven-fold increase in its nuclear-powered submarines as part of its trilateral pact with the U.S. and United Kingdom. Elsewhere, India — which has longstanding border disputes with China and Pakistan — is aiming to modernize its military as it is currently heavily reliant on equipment from the Soviet era, Bernstein noted. The asset manager also flagged ongoing geopolitical tension, such as the increased risk of confrontation and competition between the U.S. and China, as well as China’s territorial issues with countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, as factors driving defense spending in the region. — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.