Thursday, September 6, 2012

Smith Electric Vehicles: Next Stop, IPO!

Smith Electric Vehicles, the world’s leading manufacturer of electric commercial vehicles, now has plans to become the second electric-vehicle company to trade on public markets, joining Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). Also known as Smith’s, the company was founded in the U.K. and has been manufacturing zero-emission commercial electric vehicles since the 1920s.

Smith’s vehicles are based on highly sophisticated technologies, including next-generation powertrains, power management systems and telemetry capabilities. The result is that the vehicles tend to be cheaper (once you factor in operating costs) than those that run on diesel fuels.

Basically, Smith is an alternative for truck fleets, with payloads that range from 16,500 and 26,400 pounds and can serve routes up to 120 miles. Customers include Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), FedEx (NYSE:FDX) and Pepsi (NYSE:PEP). A typical vehicle costs anywhere from $80,000 to $90,000 each.

Smith currently has manufacturing facilities in Missouri and the U.K. But the company plans to expand its platform into other areas, like New York. The money raised from an IPO certainly would help with this.

For the first half of 2011, Smith’s revenues spiked from $15.82 million to $37.60 million. There currently is a backlog of 120 vehicles, and a total of 540 have been pre-sold. But according to the prospectus, the company believes it can sell several thousand vehicles during the next few years.

However, Smith’s still is not profitable. The company’s net loss came to $21.28 million for the first half of this year, which was worse than the $9.52 million loss during the same period a year ago. But for now, Smith is focused on ramping up growth.

The company�s underwriters include UBS (NYSE:UBS) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and the IPO is likely to hit the markets in the first quarter of next year.

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of �All About Short Selling� and �All About Commodities.� Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.

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