Wabash Reduces Operating Loss in 4Q

Wabash National Corporation (NYSE: WNC) reported year-over-year operating improvements across several key financial and operating metrics.

The company reported an operating loss of $11.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2009, compared to an operating loss of $87.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2008. For the twelve months ended December 31, there were operating losses of $66.1 million and $103.8 million for 2009 and 2008, respectively. Fourth-quarter and full-year 2008 results include a non-cash charge related to a goodwill impairment of $66.3 million.

Operating results for the fourth quarter of 2009 trended down sequentially from the third quarter, but were in line with expectations and the seasonality of the industry. On a non-GAAP basis, the operating EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, preferred stock dividends, depreciation, amortization, stock based compensation, and other non-operating income and expense, as well as, any other non-cash special charges) loss of $6.3 million was higher than the third quarter by approximately $1.6 million, reflective of slightly lower sales volumes and seasonally higher production costs for the quarter. The improvements in operating results and operating EBITDA experienced in both the third and fourth quarters are reflective of cost-reduction initiatives that have been implemented throughout the year, improved raw material costs and the impact of improved manufacturing operations.

“While our industry faced the most difficult economic period in decades, we made significant improvements in 2009 to our cost structure and operational efficiency,” Dick Giromini, President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “During the year, our associates were challenged with not only continuing to pursue our strategic initiatives, but also executing measures designed to improve our long-term value proposition. The results of our efforts are clear, as Wabash has meaningfully reduced its break-even point and positioned itself for increased profitability as volume levels improve.”

“While the first quarter is seasonally one of the weakest periods, we remain optimistic about the prospects for our industry. We are encouraged to see order activity pick up, and our backlog, which as of the end of the year was $137 million, is up from $96 million in September, and $110 million as of a year ago. Key economic indicators have also shown noteworthy levels of stabilization and even incremental improvement. Additionally, industry sources expect trailer demand to increase during the third and fourth quarters of 2010, with demand improving markedly in 2011 and 2012. Although some challenges remain, we believe the worst is now behind us.”

The company reported net income of $10.9 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2009 on net sales of $85 million. For the same quarter last year, the company reported a net loss of $111.9 million, or $3.73 per diluted share. Fourth quarter new trailer sales totaled 3,300 units, which represents a 65% decline from the prior year period. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2009, the net loss totaled $101.8 million, or $3.48 per diluted share, on sales of $338 million. For the comparable period of 2008, the net loss totaled $125.8 million, or $4.21 per diluted share, on sales of $836 million.

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