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Forward Industries, Inc. (FORD) Settled Proxy Battle, Return to Profitability, Bayer Supply Extension are Positive Indicators Moving Forward

While just about every investor has likely heard of globally-recognized companies and brands such as Lenovo’s Motorola Mobility (OTC: LNVGY), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Philips (NYSE: PHG) and Toshiba (OTC: TOSYY), or healthcare sector operators like Roche (OTCQX: RHHBY) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), many remain surprisingly unfamiliar with the increasingly vital carrying case and protective solutions provider which reinforces these heavy-hitters: Forward Industries (NASDAQ: FORD). West Palm Beach, Florida-headquartered Forward Industries conceptualizes, designs and delivers an extremely wide variety of tailored carrying case and usability solutions for gadgets produced by these globally-recognized brands. These solutions are either packaged with the branded product or sold in the retail aftermarket, and they significantly enhance the functionality, as well as brand presence, of the core product.

Whether we are talking about a carrying case for portable electronic healthcare devices, such as the blood glucose monitoring kits used by diabetics, handheld bar code scanners used in a warehouse, GPS devices for recreation and navigation, firearms, or even the average consumer’s smartphone/tablet – chances are that Forward Industries makes a carrying case, clip, stand or other accessory that the reader has used. With a highly skilled team of innovators that work hand-in-hand with the company’s OEM clients (or their contract manufacturing firms) to custom design the perfect carry, protective or usability accessory and over three decades of experience leveraging the premium manufacturing metrics available in China and the Far East, Forward Industries is one of the most sought-after accoutrement design shops on earth today.

After Forward Industries has worked with the OEM customer and its sizable supply chain in Asia, consisting of 800,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity, the company then ensures that gold-standard quality control procedures are utilized in order to make certain that the commercially approved production units meet with the exacting specifications that have been laid out. The company’s logistical and global warehousing capacity, as well as its comprehensive compliance structures, have won Forward Industries mounting favor among the roughly 81 OEMs around the world with which the company currently does business.

One of the largest companies that FORD has such a tight-knit relationship with is Germany-based multinational chemical and pharmaceutical developer, Bayer (OTC: BAYRY), with whom Forward Industries recently signed a sizable carry case extension deal. This extension deal adds to a relationship stretching back several years and has FORD supplying the customized carrying cases that go with Bayer’s diabetic products all the way through to the end of 2018. Such a deal speaks volumes about how Forward Industries has become one of only a handful of trusted go-to suppliers chosen by healthcare and tech sector majors to handle the accessories for their most important products.

The Bayer extension deal should also give investors a hint as to how important the company’s proven abilities to satisfy the complex compliance demands within this heavily regulated industry are, especially when it comes to differentiating FORD from its numerous competitors. Little wonder then that the company’s Q4 financials (ended September 30, 2015) showed a 2.3 percent increase in gross profit percentages when compared to Q4 FY14, or the company’s 128 percent jump in gross profits over the same interval. FORD’s Q4 FY15 EPS of $0.03 per share was quite a feat considering the turbulence experienced by the company due to an expensive (now resolved) proxy battle and paints a stark contrast with the loss of $(0.08) per share seen during the same quarter in the prior year.

The company’s ability to turn profitability around so sharply despite the proxy battle, and its ability to shore up its OEM-focused presence with the Bayer deal, is a positive signal to markets about where the company’s CEO, Terry Wise, is taking Forward Industries this year. Consistently delighted multinational customers, who continue to praise FORD for its quality and cost-effectiveness, will most likely see this case and accessory designer through to a profitable 2016 – following up nicely on its return to the black, with two back-to-back quarters of solid profitability.

Forward Industries is now fully committed to mustering sustained momentum via the hammering out of long-term sourcing agreements with new and existing customers, as well as a broadening of its product mix, which should help FORD secure access to an expanding customer base. Innovation has long been the watchword at FORD, and its in-house conceptualization and design capabilities are a force in this sector that has to be reckoned with. Given that the company has the ability to go from co-creation sessions with the customer, through traditional art approaches and on into 3D modelling quite rapidly, rounding out the design phase with both traditional mockup and 3D printing, FORD should be able to continue landing new customers across the board with ease this year.

Already serving industries ranging from tech, medical devices and video gaming to military, government and automotive, the sky is the limit for Forward Industries when it comes to design. With warehousing and production in Shenzhen and Dongguan, China, as well as operational footholds in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan, Forward Industries can offer unique scaling/sourcing benefits to its customers, and also has the global sales footprint to back it up. With sales offices in California and Indiana, as well as Switzerland – managed via the company’s wholly-owned Forward US and Forward Switzerland subsidiaries – FORD has the cost-effective manufacturing/supply capacity, as well as the key target market localized sales force strength, needed to really deliver in 2016 on its aspirations of continued profitability.

This is true whether we are talking about the $10 billion plus global glucose monitoring and diabetes management device market (Kalorama Information), or the smartphone market, which shipped around 1.44 billion units last year (IDC).

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