It's been nearly six months since Oshkosh (NYSE:OSK) won the contest to build the JLTV for the Army -- a 6.5-ton armored beast of a Humvee to keep American soldiers safe in the war zones of the 21st century. Now, six months after winning the contract, Oshkosh will finally get a chance to build it.
What's the hold-up, Tex?
Why did it take six months to get this contract under way? Blame Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT). Upset that the Pentagon didn't choose its own offering to become the Army's next top Humvee, Lockheed filed a protest of the award with the Government Accountability Office back in September. Then, when that protest was rejected, Lockheed filed a lawsuit to try to gum up the works even further.
A federal court tossed out Lockheed's request for a temporary restraining order earlier this month. A few days later, Lockheed Martin decided to throw in the towel. In a terse statement citing "careful deliberation" of its position (neglecting to mention its back-to-back legal defeats), Lockheed Martin announced last week that it "has withdrawn its protest of the JLTV contract award decision."
Finally, Oshkosh can get back to work building a first run of 17,000 JLTVs, a contract expected to bring up to $6.7 billion in revenue. Over time, production should swell as Oshkosh works to supply an estimated 54,500 JLTVs needed by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps -- revenues will roar ahead to as much as $30 billion.
What it means to investors
Of course, that's $30 billion that will not be going to Lockheed Martin. So how insignificant is this loss to the nation's largest defense contractor?
Judging from the stock price, investors don't seem to think it's important at all. Lockheed Martin stock is up 2.2% since the company announced it has dropped its lawsuit. Clearly, investors weren't putting a lot of faith in Lockheed Martin's chances of winning back the JLTV contract with the help of the courts. Nor do they particularly care that Lockheed Martin has lost its lawsuit -- and they're right.
While Lockheed would certainly like to have won the $30 billion, there's plenty more money where that came from. From Littoral Combat Ships to C-130 transports to F-35 stealth fighter jets -- the biggest weapons program in history at an estimated $1.5 trillion in value -- Lockheed Martin is going to do just fine even without the JLTV.
For Oshkosh investors, on the other hand, $30 billion in new business is a godsend. After all, $30 billion would be worth five years' worth of revenue for Oshkosh, even if the company built nothing but JLTVS. (In fact, Oshkosh builds quite a lot more -- everything from armored trucks, fire trucks, emergency response vehicles, and telehandlers for the civilian market to Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) trucks and MRAPs for the military.) But with ground wars in the Middle East out of fashion, and its civilian businesses experiencing a sales slump, Oshkosh's billion-dollar debt load was beginning to weigh on the company.
A big infusion of cash from the Pentagon is just what Oshkosh needs to right its ship, pay off the debt, and drive itself back onto firmer ground.
Rich Smith owns shares of Oshkosh -- purchased after Lockheed Martin filed its first protest, but long before it lost its second. You can find him on Motley Fool CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 256 out of more than 75,000 rated members.
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