Class 8 sales rebound forecast tepid

NEW YORK — Class 8 retail sales for the balance of 2009 and 2010 are expected to be worse than previously forecast, according to Merrill Lynch Machinery Research.

Based on weaker year-to-date industry statistics, Merrill Lynch lowered its estimate for 2009 sales of heavy-duty trucks to 120,000 from 150,000 units in a previous forecast. The research division also lowered its forecast for 2010 sales to 130,000 units, compared to a previous estimate of 155,000.

The company used macro economic forecast data and industry statistics, such as the ATA Tonnage Index, to come to these estimates.

"We forecast only a limited recovery in ’10 as the industry will need to absorb excess capacity created by weak macro economic conditions in ’09," the Merrill Lynch report said.

A wait-and-see approach among equipment buyers in regards to new, more expensive EPA-mandated engines is also affecting analysts’ less-than optimistic projections for next year.

In contrast, the analysts expect sales to improve significantly in 2011, increasing their estimates for sales to 250,000 units. This would be a 92 percent gain year-over-year.

The division’s forecast for heavy-duty production in 2009 is 110,000 units.

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