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Instant Analysis: Navistar CEO Willing to Consider Deals

By Eric Volkman - Mar 7, 2016 at 9:04AM

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The company has struggled with revenue erosion and a lack of profitability.

What happened?
Truck and engine maker Navistar International (NAV) might be trucking down the road to a sale. CEO Troy Clarke implied strongly in an interview with Reuters that the company was open to a partnership with, or even acquisition by, another manufacturer.


Referring to the company's recent agreement with General Motors to produce medium-duty trucks for the incumbent car giant, Clarke said that "there are companies out there that could use our ability to do that kind of stuff to grow their footprint in North America."

Like its peers, Navistar has been struggling with a general slowdown in sales of the types of vehicles it specializes in. It posted lower revenues on a year-over-year basis as well as a net loss in its recently reported fiscal 2015.

Does it matter?
At this point for Navistar, a sell-off or major partnership is a good idea. Although at this early stage, it's hard to gauge what direction -- if any -- the company might go in, it could obviously use the help. That annual net loss was its fourth in a row, and although it has done a decent job of cutting costs, its revenue is also eroding (the 2015 tally was its lowest in years).

Besides, Navistar's major shareholder roster has a big name at the top -- Icahn Enterprises' leader and namesake, activist investor Carl Icahn. Icahn Enterprises and its ilk would surely welcome an acquisition -- after all, Icahn once described the company as "a poster child for abysmal business decisions and poor corporate governance" in an open letter.

That was before the current managerial regime, which has done what it can to shore up the business. But times are still tough, and it's getting harder to go it alone. Sentiment on Navistar should improve with Clarke's statements, but the company has a long road to travel if it's going to survive and thrive.

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