AeroVironment Is Flying High


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a Puma unmanned aircraft system!

Shares of AeroVironment (NAS: AVAV) enjoyed a bump amid a generally down market day on news that the company has received a $65 million order for its Puma unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The United States Special Operations Command selected the Puma through an existing contract after the company won a Department of Defense competition.

This is a healthy score for the maker of UASes and electric-vehicle charging stations. UASes represent more than 85% of the company's total revenue, and this order alone is more than a quarter of last year's UAS segment revenue of $249.8 million. Last year's total revenue amounted to $292.5 million, so this is AeroVironment's bread and butter It's no surprise that management is bullish going forward.

As for the competition, Boeing (NYS: BA) has its very own unmanned hydrogen-powered Phantom Ray that recently completed its first flight, bringing it a step closer to the skies and into direct competition with AeroVironment. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman's (NYS: NOC) remotely piloted helicopter, the Fire Scout, has been flying off the production lines. Lockheed Martin's (NYS: LMT) offering, the Desert Hawk III, is similar to AeroVironment's Puma in that it's smaller than the Phantom Ray or Fire Scout.

The company, meanwhile, has also been making headway in its efficient energy systems segment, growing 68% last year to record highs. This division should reap the benefits from the need to build an infrastructure to support the oncoming masses of electric cars.

I like what I see in AeroVironment. The company's two key segments, unmanned aircraft and electric charging stations, both have strong growth prospects. This stock definitely deserves a spot on your Watchlist, if not your portfolio.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuholds no position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of AeroVironment. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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