Wabash National set a company record for first-quarter performance in net sales, gross profit and income from sales.
Net income for the first quarter of 2015 was $10.5 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, compared to the first quarter 2014 net income of $7.3 million, or $0.10 per diluted share. First quarter 2015 non-GAAP adjusted earnings were $13.8 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, after excluding a $5.3 million charge related to the extinguishment of debt incurred in connection with the refinancing of the company's term loan credit facility in March 2015. The Company's prior year period results included the impact of one-time costs related to a change in statutory income tax rates. Excluding the impact of this item, non-GAAP adjusted earnings for the quarter ended March 31, 2014, were $8.3 million, or $0.12 per diluted share.
For the first quarter of 2015, the company's net sales increased 22 percent to $438 million from $358 million in the prior year quarter, and operating income increased 40 percent to $27.3 million compared to operating income of $19.5 million for the first quarter of 2014. Operating EBITDA, a non-GAAP measure that excludes the effects of certain recurring and non-recurring items, for the first quarter of 2015 was $39.1 million, an increase of $8.5 million compared to Operating EBITDA for the previous year period.
On a trailing twelve month basis, the company's net sales exceeded $1.9 billion, generating Operating EBITDA of $177.6 million, or 9.1 percent of net sales. Continued improvement in operating performance is attributable to the successful execution of the company's growth and diversification strategy as well as a disciplined approach to improving profitability.
"Momentum generated coming out of 2014 has accelerated with strong operational execution throughout the business, combined with a continuing strong demand environment,” said Dick Giromini, president and chief executive officer.
"New trailer shipments for the first quarter were approximately 14,350, exceeding our previous guidance of 12,000 to 13,000 trailers as a result of strong customer demand. The year-over-year increases in total trailer demand now being projected by both ACT Research and FTR, along with our record backlog of $1.2 billion, further support the continuing strength in the trailer industry and provides us even greater confidence that 2015 will prove to be our fourth consecutive year of record performance. As such, we are now increasing our full-year shipment and adjusted earnings guidance to 62,000 to 66,000 trailers and $1.15 to $1.25 per diluted share, respectively."
Commercial Trailer Products' net sales increased $87 million, or 38.0 percent, on shipments of 13,600 trailers, or 4,350 more trailers than the prior year period. This increase in revenue was primarily due to the 47.0 percent increase in trailer shipments during the quarter, partially offset by a higher mix of pup trailers and converter dollies which carry a lower selling price. Driven by higher volumes, an improved pricing environment and continued operational improvements, gross profit and gross profit margin increased $14.6 million and 280 basis points, respectively, as compared to the same period last year. Operating income increased by $14.0 million to $22.8 million from the first quarter last year.
Diversified Products' net sales decreased $4 million, or 3.8 percent, as increases in tank trailer shipments as compared to the previous year period were more than offset by the reduced demand for non-trailer truck mounted equipment and timing of shipments for engineered products. Gross profit and operating income declined $2.4 million and $2.8 million, respectively, compared to the prior year period, primarily due to lower overall net sales and continued pricing pressures on certain products. First-quarter gross profit margin of 22.5 percent represents the highest recorded for this segment since the 23.8 percent gross profit margin recorded in the first quarter of 2014.
Retail's net sales of $43 million decreased 5.5 percent compared with the prior year period, primarily due to fewer retail locations resulting from the transition of three West Coast branches to independent dealers in May 2014 as demand for trailers and parts and service remained healthy throughout the quarter. On a same store basis, net sales increased $5 million, or 14.0 percent, compared with the prior year period. Gross profit margin of 11.2 percent declined slightly from 11.8 percent in the prior year period primarily due to product mix with a higher percentage of lower-margined new trailer sales. Operating income of $1.1 million remained consistent from the same period last year and increased $0.3 million on a same store basis.