Wabash posts sales gains in 2006

Wabash National Corp racked up net sales of $1.312 billion during 2006, a gain of $98 million from 2005.

Net income for the 12 months of 2006 totaled $9 million, compared with $111 million for the prior year. Results in the 2006 quarter and year-to-date periods included a non-cash goodwill impairment charge in the company's retail business of $15 million and the reversal of a valuation allowance of deferred tax assets amounting to $5 million.

Results in the 2005 quarter and year-to-date periods included reversals of a valuation allowance for deferred tax assets amounting to $1 million and $37 million, respectively.

Wabash closed out 2006 with a strong fourth quarter. Sales for the last three months of the year were $354 million, up $13 million versus fourth quarter 2005. However, the company reported a net loss of $5 million for the quarter, in contrast to net income of $20 million for the year-ago period.

Last year was a year of transition and challenges for the company, according to Dick Giromini, president and chief executive officer.

“The organization was faced with continued commodity cost increases, competitive pricing pressures, the integration of an acquisition, implementation of an automated production line, and starting up an ERP system,” Giromini said. “While we have made significant progress, it is not yet reflected in our current operating results. We enter 2007 a more fundamentally sound organization that is well-positioned to reap the rewards of our efforts.”

The company is cautious in its outlook for 2007.

“The weak freight environment in the latter part of 2006 has fleets approaching trailer purchases cautiously,” Giromini said. “We expect a slow start for 2007.”

The company reports recent quote and order activity in line with seasonal patterns, but weaker than that of the prior year. At the end of the year, Wabash had a backlog valued at $512 million, including $28 million for flatbeds. This compares with $516 million at the end of 2005.

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