Line workers at the Navistar San Antonio plant. (Joe Howard/Transport Topics)
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North American Class 8 orders in February hit 23,600 units, ending a month-to-month decline that started in October, ACT Research reported.
Preliminary data from ACT showed orders rose 12% compared with the same period last year, when they reached 21,000 units. On a month-to-month basis, February orders jumped 28% from the January number of 18,400 units.
Eric Crawford, vice president and senior analyst at ACT, said the number “represents a modest upside to our expectation.”
FTR, an economic and freight forecasting firm, found similar results with its preliminary orders data rising for the first time in five months to 22,800 units. That is an 8% increase over the year-ago period at 21,100 units.
“Orders likely are below build rates for the month, and FTR would anticipate backlogs to slip slightly,” said Eric Starks, board chairman at FTR. “However, backlogs remain at high levels and production slots are mainly filled through Q3 of this year. As such, the February performance is a good sign for the industry as fleets continue to order equipment.”
The FTR report noted Class 8 orders have topped 300,000 units over the last 12 months. It attributed the latest monthly numbers to a solid level of order activity, which suggests volume may be stabilizing in the low 20,000-unit range.
“Over the past year, total net orders reached 303,000 units,” Starks said. “In any market, this is a strong number. However, given the uncertainty in the economy, this is an especially welcome sign that demand has not collapsed and that fleets still have access to capital.”
Navistar, which makes International trucks, in a statement said, “International’s Class 8 production is fully allocated for 2023 and the 2024 order board has yet to open. The orders we are receiving are from customers who are finalizing specifications for their allocations, and for the new International S13 integrated powertrain, which begins production later this year.”
Cowen and Co. found machinery and transportation equipment earnings have been largely solid, as disruptions continued to ease and pricing remained robust. The investment bank and financial services company said Class 8 orders have exceeded expectations in February.
“Preliminary Class 8 net orders for February … were 22,400 units, compared to ACT Research expectations for orders to range between 15,000 and 20,000 units per month in the near term,” Cowen and Co. analyst Jason Seidl wrote in the report. “Heavy and medium-duty truck production should rise again, but orders should continue to moderate.”