GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.—Rubber track vehicle maker ASV Inc. will begin initial production by year-end of its new Scout SC-50 rubber-tracked utility vehicle, which it says will bridge industrial and recreational applications and be uniquely positioned to "work hard and play hard in almost any ground conditions."
Full production will begin in the first quarter of 2007.
The Scout was introduced in October at the Outdoor Power and Equipment Show in Louisville, Ky. It represents the first utility vehicle for Minnesota-based ASV, which makes industrial rubber track loaders used in the construction, landscaping and agriculture industries. ASV also produces rubber track undercarriages for other vehicle manufacturers.
"While this new machine complements our existing product line, we are excited at the nearly endless number of new applications it enables," ASV President Mark Glasnapp said in a statement. "For heavy-duty applications such as construction, forest fire suppression or utility and pipeline system maintenance, this machine represents a mobile work platform that can be fitted with a spray rig, elevated work platform or fuel tank."
It also can be used for lighter utility applications in agriculture, golf course and park maintenance and snow removal.
With a list price of about $25,000, the Scout will appeal to hunters, sportsmen and owners of large properties, as well, according to an ASV spokeswoman. It was a hit when it was unveiled at the Louisville show, she added.
"It was certainly clear to us from our dealers and the (show) attendees that there´s just nothing like the Scout out there in the world of utility vehicles," she said. "It kind of blows away the competition in terms of towing capacity, bed capacity and fuel-tank capacity."
The Scout will incorporate ASV´s patented rubber track undercarriage technology and feature a 50-horsepower diesel engine, cab seating for two, a flatbed rear cargo deck, and 5,000-pound towing capacity.
It can be fitted with optional front and rear hydraulics and attachments such as a snow blade and an industrial-grade hydraulic dump box for hauling more than 35 cubic feet of material.
ASV said because of the low ground pressure of its rubber track technology, its Scout can carry two tons of cargo through almost any terrain with a "light footprint" and minimal surface damage. Yet the vehicle will have a smooth, comfortable ride, ASV said.
On Oct. 31, ASV reported third-quarter net earnings of $5.1 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, on net sales of $63 million. While machine sales grew substantially from year-earlier figures to $35.2 million, overall sales were hurt by declines in the sale of OEM undercarriages and in ASV´s Loegering traction products and service parts.
In its earnings statement, ASV Chairman and CEO Dick Benson said sales of the company´s ASV machines hit record levels in the third quarter and the firm had its second largest quarter for Posi-Track sales in its history.
However, he added, while the company experienced solid growth in Posi-Track machines sales, the negative news surrounding housing is having an impact on dealer psychology, and it will be difficult to assess the impact this will have on the fourth quarter and beyond.
ASV supplies rubber track undercarriages to Caterpillar for its Multi Terrain Loaders. Caterpillar owns about 23 percent of ASV´s stock. ASV OEM undercarriage sales also include an exclusive supply agreement with Vermeer Manufacturing Co., which makes utility trenchers.
The company attributed lower order rates from Caterpillar and a decrease in sales from year-ago figures at its Loegering products subsidiary to the slowdown in the U.S. housing sector.
Service parts sales slowed from a year ago because of greater longevity of its undercarriage components, it said.
ASV revised its guidance for full-year 2006 sales to $240 million to $250 million instead of the $280 million to $300 million it had given as guidance. Sales in 2005 were $245 million.
ASV, which trades on NASDAQ, also announced a $50 million share repurchase program, planning over the next three years to buy back its stock from time to time in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions, but not from directors, officers or other affiliates of the company.
It will fund the repurchases with available cash and investments, as well as cash expected from future operations. The repurchase program isn´t for a specific number of shares and may be discontinued at any time, the company said.