March Class 8 Orders Drop, Next Few Months ‘Critical’

BLOOMINGTON, IN ­— Preliminary numbers on March class 8 orders are showing a 4 percent drop from February, FTR Associates reported today.

Year-over-year, orders are up 11 percent, FTR noted, adding that when combined with January and February orders, “resulted in an annualized rate for the first three months of 2013 at 266,808 units.”

March class 8 orders are currently sitting at 21,817 units — that’s a good sign for the near-term, said FTR president Eric Starks. “We expect that anything above 19,000 units in orders adds to the backlog of orders to be built which we believe will be confirmed when numbers are finalized mid-month. We didn’t expect orders to fall from recent levels; however, it is good to see actual data suggesting the market has stabilized with more upside potential for the second half of the year,” he said.

“The next few months’ orders will be critical in understanding the demand pressure as we move into the summer,” Starks explained. “To put the numbers in perspective, the FTR 2013 forecast requires an average order intake of around 22,000 units per month for the next six months with March numbers sitting right near that sweet spot. If orders come in nearer to 25,000 units for the next three months, it would make us feel more comfortable about moving our forecast higher for the second half of the year. Also, the industry will have to be careful looking at the year-over-year changes for orders through the summer as we saw a noticeable fall off in order activity in the middle of last year. Therefore, we would expect to see healthy year-over-year gains over the next five months.”

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