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This past week has been a dramatic one for
Navistar(NAV - Get Report), the small-cap commercial vehicle and engine builder. While Icahn loves the company (his firm bought nearly a million shares of NAV in the second quarter), he hates its management team. To that effect, Icahn has been exchanging nasty letters with management, most notably scolding the board for making major decisions (like a CEO change) without input from major shareholders.
While the drama isn't likely to come to an end soon, it's clear why Icahn still likes the business.
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Navistar is a leader in the heavy vehicle business. Brands include flagship International, Monaco Coach, and its MaxxForce engine marque, giving NAV market-leading positions in 75% of its business lines. As oil prices continue to ebb and flow, the trucking industry should get some semblance of a shot in the arm, providing a boost in the parts and vehicles that roll off of NAV's manufacturing lines. A slow embrace of nontraditional fuels, particularly electric-drive vehicles, could be a big growth avenue for the firm in the next few years as city operators look for ways to trim overhead.
While Navistar carries considerable debt, much of it is tied to a captive finance business that's separate for all intents and purposes. With more than $750 million in cash on its balance sheet and proven cash generation ability, NAV looks like a solid bet right now.
That's especially true now that shares have slid more than 33% this year. With the Icahn fight going strong, investors may be able to get a bargain here.