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May 5, 2014 3:45 AM, EDT

OEMs Report Strong 1Q Results

Driven by North American Sales
By Seth Clevenger, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the May 5 print edition of Transport Topics.

Truck maker Paccar Inc. and the truck divisions of Daimler AG and Volvo AB reported improved first-quarter results as economic growth and replacement demand continued to drive purchases in North America.

Paccar, the parent company of Kenworth Trucks and Peterbilt Motors, said its net income rose to $273.9 million, or 77 cents a share, from $236.1 million, or 67 cents, a year ago.

Daimler, based in Stuttgart, Germany, said its global truck division’s operating income nearly doubled, jumping to 341 million euros ($473 million), from 116 million euros ($161 million) in the year-ago quarter.

Daimler Trucks’ first-quarter sales in North America climbed 13% from early 2013 to 34,558 units, contributing to a 7% increase in the company’s worldwide sales, to 108,529 trucks.

Volvo AB said worldwide operating income at its truck segment jumped to 1.8 billion Swedish kronor ($277 million) from 115 million kronor ($18 million) a year earlier, excluding restructuring charges.

Volvo, which operates here as Volvo Trucks and Mack Trucks, said its North American quarterly deliveries surged 69% to 13,001 vehicles.

The original equipment manufacturers projected the North American truck market will expand this year and announced plans to boost production.

Paccar, of Bellevue, Washington, said it delivered 31,800 trucks during the first quarter, up 4% from the same period last year.

“The improvement reflects increased truck deliveries in the U.S. and Canada due to the ongoing replacement of the aging truck population and improving construction and automotive sectors,” new Paccar CEO Ron Armstrong said on the company’s April 29 conference call.

He said the company expects to increase overall truck production by 8-10% in the second quarter, including stronger growth in the United States and Canada and slower growth in Europe.

Armstrong succeeded Mark Pigott on April 27, although Pigott is still chairman of the board.

Daimler said it expects global demand for medium- and heavy-duty trucks in 2014 to be at about the same level as the previous year, but it anticipates market growth of about 10% in North America related to “increasing economic momentum.”

“In the Nafta region, our unit sales should benefit from the expected market expansion and should significantly surpass the level of the year 2013,” Daimler said in its April 30 report.

The North American truck market “continues its gradual improvement,” Volvo CEO Olof Persson said in the company’s April 25 report, adding that Volvo is planning for a “slight increase in the production level towards summer.”

In March, Navistar International Corp. reported a wider loss for its fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 31. The truck and engine maker lost $248 million during those three months but pointed to an upward trend in sales.

Navistar recently announced plans to boost the production rate at its heavy-duty truck plant in Mexico by about 24% in coming months.

Navistar is scheduled to report during June on the three- and six-month periods ending April 30.

Paccar said its quarterly revenue rose 11.6% to $4.38 billion.

The company also boosted its full-year forecast for U.S. and Canadian Class 8 sales to 220,000 to 240,000 units, up from its previous projection of 210,000 to 240,000. Industry sales were 212,000 in 2013, Paccar said.

“The stronger market reflects ongoing replacement demand and some expansion in industry fleet capacity due to continued strong freight fundamentals,” Armstrong said.

Daimler Trucks’ worldwide quarterly revenue edged up 1% to 7.1 billion euros. Its Freightliner and Western Star brands captured 40.1% of the North American market in Classes 6-8, down from a “strong” first quarter of 2013, but the company said it “clearly defended [its] position as the market leader.”

Volvo said global sales revenue for its truck segment rose 18% to 43.8 billion kronor.

North American net order intake climbed 14% to 9,430 for the company’s Volvo Trucks brand and jumped 39% to 6,845 units for Mack.

In its report, Volvo ascribed the rise in North American truck sales to replacement demand, growing customer confidence in the economy, strong freight demand and increased construction activity.

Volvo raised its 2014 forecast for the North American heavy-duty truck market by 10,000 units, to 260,000.