Paccar Net Earnings Plunge 95% in Q3

Truck manufacturer said it sees slight signs of improvement looking ahead.

Truck manufacturer Paccar reported Tuesday a 96% drop in third-quarter earnings compared with the same period a year ago as weak global economic conditions took a toll. Net earnings for the quarter were $13 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, compared with $299 million, or 82 cents per diluted share, one year ago.

Consolidated sales and revenues fell 50%, from $4.004 billion in the third quarter of 2008 to $2 billion in the third quarter of 2009.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based company, whose truck brands include Kenworth and Peterbilt, said it saw "mildly encouraging signs" looking ahead. "Freight tonnage has recently started to increase and the ISM Manufacturing Index has exceeded 52 in each of the last two months, the highest readings since July 2007," noted Dan Sobic, Paccar executive vice president, in the earnings release. "Our customers' profitability is benefiting from lower fuel prices and good availability of drivers, though freight rates and tonnage are lower than last year. Industry retail sales in 2010 are expected to improve slightly, due to the aging of the fleet and general economic growth, to a range of 110,000-140,000 units, which is still below normal replacement demand of 225,000-250,000 units."

Paccar reported that it would increase capital investments in 2010 as the economy improves.

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