Trailer orders decline 3% in May 2007

Total trailer orders edged down 3% in May 2007, according to figures compiled by ACT Research of Columbus IN.

Manufacturers received orders for 16,134 trailers in May, in line with Bear Stearns' forecast of 15,000-17,000, and a substantial improvement from the 40% drop year-over-year reported in April.

Dry van orders were 8,369 in May, compared with 4,245 in April — a 4% decline versus May 2006. This, too, is a major upgrade from the 63% year-over-year decline that the industry experienced in April. However, industrywide orders for 2,423 platform trailers were down 22% year-over-year in May. By contrast, orders for 2,181 platforms received in April represented only an 8% decline from year-earlier levels.

On the production side, manufacturers built 11,311 dry-freight vans in May, down 16% from a year earlier — but a slight increase from April.

Total trailer backlog-to-build ratios deteriorated 15% year-over-year in May to 5.3x. The ratio was down 19% year-over-year in April.

“Directionally, industrywide total trailer orders were in line with low expectations,” said Bear Stearns' Peter Nesvold. “However, industrywide dry van inventories continued to rise (another all-time record month), up roughly 18% sequentially in May from April, and are now roughly 1,900 units higher than they were at the end of the first quarter of 2007. Industrywide dry van builds improved sequentially, though still down 16% y/y. Dry van cancellations moderated during the month to 7.7%.”

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