> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

Despite a 16.4% increase in motorhome chassis sales during the first quarter, Spartan Motors Inc., reports its net earnings during the first three months of this year declined by 49%.
Spartan’s earnings plunged to $1.3 million during the three months ended March 31, compared with $2.6 million during the same period a year earlier, because of the net loss incurred at its firetruck and emergency vehicle operations.
The company’s total sales revenue increased 3% in the first quarter to $62.1 million, compared with $60.4 million a year earlier.
Spartan’s firetruck and emergency vehicle operations lost money because of factory start-up costs; new product launch expenses at its Crimson Fire Aerial division; and costs at its Road Rescue division for ramping up production at a new plant in Marion, S.C., which replaced Road Rescue’s St. Paul, Minn. factory.
In addition to the 16.4% increase in motorhome chassis sales, when compared with the pre-Iraq War first quarter of 2003, Spartan’s RV chassis sales during the first three months of this year were 3.2% higher than during the fourth quarter of last year.
“Going into the second quarter, we are pleased to have a strong backlog of RV chassis,” said John Sztykiel, president and CEO. “We anticipate higher second quarter RV chassis sales compared to the first quarter. The last time we accomplished this achievement was over a decade ago. We have picked up new motorhome platforms and are growing with our current OEM customers. At the same time, new products should drive second-half momentum.”
Gladiator Evolution chassis models now account for 58% of the orders at Spartan’s motorhome-fire truck chassis assembly operation. Spartan’s firetruck chassis sales were “essentially flat” during the first quarter, when compared with the first three months of 2003, but the company anticipates setting a firetruck chassis sales record this year based upon its order backlog and demand for higher-end firetruck chassis.
“The RV market is breaking out once again and Spartan Chassis is under the right models and finding more opportunities to showcase our quality and technology leadership,” Sztykiel added.
Separately, Spartan announced today (April 28) it would raise its twice-yearly dividend to 8 cents per share of common stock from 5 cents a share. The higher dividend will be paid on June 14 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 14.