Updated from 7:06 p.m. EST
OKLAHOMA CITY -- In the race to sell mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles,
( NAVZ) has blown past rival
When the U.S. military placed its final MRAP order of the year -- handing out three contracts worth a combined $2.66 billion -- Navistar walked away with more than 40% of the order for itself. In fact, so did British-owned BAE. That left Force Protection -- once the leader of the group -- with less than 15% of the total share.
The news, disclosed late Tuesday, wrecked Force Protection's stock once again. The shares, already battered this month by concerns about this order, plunged 31% to $4.09 in after-hours trading.
At this point, it seems, MRAP has a new leader. Navistar's International Military and Government division scored a $1.12 billion contract for 1,500 of its Category I MRAP vehicles.
In contrast, Force Protection will collect $378 million for 178 of its Category I and 180 of its Category II MRAP vehicles combined.
Navistar specializes in the lighter Category I vehicles, while Force Protection -- until now -- has managed to dominate orders for heavier vehicles in the Category II arena. This time around, however, the U.S. military actually awarded its largest Category II contract to a foreign-owned operator instead.
BAE fielded a $645 million order for 600 of its heavy-duty Category II vehicles. Armor Holdings, which was recently acquired by BAE, secured a $458 million order for 668 of its Category II vehicles as well.
Thus, Navistar and BAE almost evenly split the bulk of the latest MRAP order. In the past, at least, Force Protection has always managed to secure its fair share.
So, as it turns out, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Chris Donaghey simply thought he was prepared for the worst. Early Tuesday, with concerns about this order mounting, Donaghey finally caved in and scaled back his expectations for Force Protection.
"This assumption implies additional awards to FRPT under the MRAP I program of only 515 vehicles," he stressed. "Clearly, this change represents a substantial reversal of our previous expectations -- and in our opinion, if this scenario plays out, defies logic."
Still, he added, "given the rhetoric of potential reductions to the size of the MRAP program and seemingly illogical uncertainties of FRPT's ultimate market share of the MRAP I program, we believe our reduction may be warranted but clearly extreme."
Donaghey did keep his buy recommendation on Force Protection, however. He felt that the stock was significantly undervalued -- even before Tuesday's after-hours plunge -- and predicted that it would ultimately climb back to $14 a share.
"Clearly, a considerable amount of skepticism exists in this stock today," admitted Donaghey, whose firm has investment banking ties to the company. But "we believe the recent selloff is significantly overdone and reflects a situation where global demand is virtually nonexistent" in the end.