What's the market outlook? Stay tuned

THE economic picture can change dramatically in the span of mere hours. The September 11 terrorist attacks illustrated that volatility in frightening fashion.

So some of the points Stephen Latin-Kasper will make in “The Current Truck Equipment Market Outlook,” from 3-4:15 pm on Tuesday, were not known at press time and are not even germinating as you read this. As Latin-Kasper notes, “Forecasts aren't worth much more than the paper they're printed on.”

But the basic thrust of his presentation will be this: Truck equipment production and sales will have bottomed out by the end of 2001 and then started an upward climb in the first quarter of this year — not quickly enough to satisfy many who have been negatively affected, but enough to provide a welcome relief from 18 months of decline.

“We're very closely tied to the national economy via the fact that trucks do a lot of the work here,” says Latin-Kasper, the NTEA's director of market data and research. “They're involved in practically every other industry. The truck equipment industry serves practically everyone — construction, utilities, other transportation services, retail, wholesale. So when the economy comes around, more trucks get purchased. Very simple.

“Now there are things going on within the structure of the national economy that are more important than other things. For example, the construction industry uses a lot more trucks than the retail industry. So when we start building our truck equipment sales and product forecast, we look a lot more closely at what's happening with the forecast for construction than the forecast for retail. Not all the industries are equal in terms of truck usage. We realize that and take it into account. The three industries I follow closely on a quarterly basis are construction, utilities, and state and local government.”

Latin-Kasper will analyze the short- and long-term roles played by the US and international economies and review current data on truck sales and end-use markets.

Latin-Kasper's session will be a summarized version of the three-hour Economic Update presented at 9 am, along with Eli Lustgarten, managing director for HC Wainright and Co, and Martin Labbe, president and CEO of Martin Labbe Associates. That update is an offshoot of the NTEA's Economic Outlook Conference in September, which is the time of the year when most of the member companies are doing their market planning. The same logic applies six months later at The Work Truck Show, when they're updating their market plans and need to update their forecast.

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