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Motley Fool Now Bullish on Spartan Motors Inc.

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May 27, 2009 by   Leave a Comment

The Motley Fool, not one to avoid being viciously negative on occasion and sometimes in a flippant sort of way, sounded somewhat bullish recently on Spartan Motors Inc., a chassis supplier to the RV industry.

“More top-performing CAPS (community stock research) members have been feeling bullish about Spartan Motors these days, enough to upgrade it from its long-held four-star rank to a more formidable five stars, though it has since dropped back down to four,” the Fool columnists wrote in their “This Just In” column that examines stocks.

“A total of 492 members have given their opinion on Spartan Motors, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism,” the Fool wrote.

The columnists added:

Spartan supplies chassis for RVs and emergency vehicles, and it also supplies parts to builders of military vehicles like Force Protection and General Dynamics. A dismal market for recreational vehicles has slammed Spartan just as it has dealt a severe blow to Winnebago Industries.  But it has also provided others like Navistar International with a chance to pick up RV assets on the cheap.

Demand for fire truck chassis and emergency vehicles have been strong for Spartan, though, with the backlog for each growing in the recent quarter, helping offset slower sales to the RV and defense industries. It increased its gross margin in the quarter by 46% over last year, the fourth consecutive quarterly increase, and grew its cash and equivalents balance to $27.2 million thanks in part to $15.1 million in operating cash flow and only $800,000 in capital expenditures in the quarter. The continued performance and rock-bottom share price have had investors jumping back into the stock recently.

And how can you blame them? With military spending providing solid growth prospects for defense companies like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, Spartan certainly stands to benefit, too. The company’s already working on some new developments in anticipation of a ramp-up in Afghanistan and Pentagon plans of a large order of all-terrain M-ATV vehicles this year.

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