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Truck maker Navistar reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue on Tuesday, as strong freight demand helped drive sales of its high-margin heavy-duty trucks.
Deliveries of the company's long-haul Class 8 trucks — used by the big rigs that haul freight along America's highways — are expected to rise next year as hauliers rush to replace older trucks with more fuel-efficient vehicles to keep up with increasing U.S. freight demand.
Production for these trucks is expected to rise 5 percent to 335,000 units in 2019, according to ACT Research, the industry body tracking the commercial vehicle market.
Lisle, Illinois-based Navistar said it now expects to deliver between 265,000 and 295,000 of its Class 8 vehicles in 2019, from the 255,000 units to 285,000 units range it forecast earlier.
While the overall truck market has remained strong, Navistar's stock is down 45 percent this year, taking a hit from broader declines in industrial stocks on the back of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.
"NAV shares have been caught in the general downdraft for industrials. This comes despite good performance in the truck end markets, Navistar's share gains and generally higher EPS estimates," Jefferies analyst Stephen Volkmann said in a note.
"We continue to believe the truckmarkets will remain supportive in 2019."
The company also raised its overall fiscal 2019 delivery forecast of Class 6-8 trucks and buses in the United States and Canada to between 395,000 units and 425,000 units, from an earlier 385,000 units to 415,000 units range.
Revenue in the truck business, Navistar's biggest, rose 75.8 percent to $197 million in the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31. The company expects its 2019 revenue to be between $10.75 billion and $11.25 billion.
Net income attributable to the company rose 39 percent to $188 million. Earnings per share rose to $1.89 from $1.36 per share, beating analysts' average expectation of $1.71 according to data from IBES Refinitiv. (https://bit.ly/2SWzGH8)
Navistar's revenue rose to $3.32 billion from $2.6 billion, also beating estimates.
The company's shares rose 0.46 percent to $23.95 in light premarket trading on Tuesday.