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Navistar International Corp. today (March 8) reported a loss of $153 million, or $2.19 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended Jan. 31, compared to a loss of $6 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, in the previous year.

Sales during the period rose 11% versus in its year-ago first quarter, which is driven by increased truck volumes in traditional and worldwide markets. In the year-ago first quarter, Navistar reported sales of $2.7 billion. Navistar is parent to Monaco RV LLC and Workhorse Custom Chassis Corp.

According to Navistar, the first quarter traditionally is the weakest period due to seasonal downtime in its two largest markets. Additionally, at its analyst day Feb. 1, the company said it expected a first quarter 2012 loss due to a series of factors, including higher year-over-year healthcare costs; the start up of a new foundry operation; a brake supplier issue that interrupted truck shipments; the temporary shutdown of a key OEM customer of its South America operations due to the Thailand floods; and efforts to improve customers’ vehicles during a traditionally slow period.

“We proactively addressed these product issues in a low usage period during the first quarter, which we believe will improve long-term customer satisfaction and reduce warranty costs,” said Daniel C. Ustian, Navistar chairman, president and CEO. “Strategically, we achieved a number of key milestones in the first quarter, including our submission of a 0.2 NOx engine for EPA certification and the announcement of our development of a full range of natural gas truck offerings.

“We remain confident in our ability to deliver strong 2012 profit performance and make continued progress toward our long-term growth goals,” Ustian said. “We are already seeing accelerated synergies from our recent move into our new integrated product development center beyond the $60 million we originally estimated. We now believe this integration of our people will unlock up to $100 million in savings toward our bottom line in 2012.”

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