Force Protection ( FRPT) knows how to treat its allies. Just look at the favor the maker of blast-resistant military trucks did for some of its investors last month. Last month, the South Carolina-based defense contractor quietly inked a joint venture with heavyweight military supplier General Dynamics ( GD). But just before announcing that key deal to the public, the company raised $153 million by selling stock at the sharply discounted price of $11.75 a share in a private placement. Those 13 million shares, representing roughly one-quarter of the total outstanding, have already delivered phenomenal returns. At recent prices, private placement buyers are up more than 80% over four weeks. But they aren't the only investors who have become avid fans of Force Protection. The company's stock has risen 30-fold over the last year as fans catch on to the promise of its heavy-duty gear amid the war in Iraq. The stock could soon get even more popular: Force Protection is due to move its listing to the Nasdaq from the over-the-counter bulletin board next week. Some observers clearly believe the company has big things ahead of it. "Within the next month, we expect to see the largest contract yet for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to be awarded by the U.S. Marine Corps," SunTrust analyst Chris Donaghey wrote. In starting coverage Friday with a buy rating and $31 price target, he said he believes the company can generate $1 billion in annual revenue under the deal.