A new partnership between Oshkosh Trucks ( OSK) and Ceradyne ( CRDN) poses a fresh threat to Force Protection ( FRPT). Oshkosh announced on Friday that it has teamed up with Ceradyne and a well-connected consulting firm, Ideal Innovations, to manufacture an especially sturdy mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle. Notably, the armor protecting that vehicle -- known as the Bull -- has shown a unique ability to withstand hits by "explosively formed projectiles" during demonstrations at the Army's official testing grounds in Aberdeen, Md. EFPs are far more sophisticated and deadly than the ordinary "improvised explosive devices" that first-generation MRAP vehicles were designed to deflect. They now rank as one of the biggest threats to soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, the military plans to seek EFP protection as it hands out contracts for thousands of vehicles under a new multibillion-dollar MRAP II program. Thus, big winners under the original MRAP program -- including Force Protection and Navistar ( NAVZ) -- face tougher demands this time around. With the Bull, however, the Ceradyne team feels that it has found a viable solution already. Ceradyne's new partner, Oshkosh, was touting the strengths of that new offering on Friday.
"It is our mission to help protect the brave men and women of the U.S. military against the most dangerous threats," Oshkosh CEO Robert Bohn stated. "And, together with Ceradyne and I-3, we intend to build the best vehicles to protect our soldiers against the higher-threat weapons used by our enemies. "We believe the Bull will be a great addition to Oshkosh Truck's long history of setting the standard for serving our troops in the field." Shares of Oshkosh inched up just 10 cents to $58.11 despite the good news. Ceradyne enjoyed a much bigger bounce, however, jumping $2.24 to $76.95. Meanwhile, Force Protection -- its hopes for MRAP dominance waning -- continued to lose ground. The company's stock, which fetched $31 just two months ago, slipped 15 cents to $16.16 on Friday.