Photo: Wabash National

Photo: Wabash National

Setting new records in a variety of different categories allowed trailer manufacturer Wabash National Corp. (NYSE:WNC) to report on Tuesday it more than doubled its first quarter profit compared to a year ago.

Net income totaled $27.5 million, or 42 cents per share, compared to $10.5 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier, as net sales increased 2% to $448 million.

According to the Indiana-based company, the year-over-year improvement in operating performance is due to the successful execution of its growth and diversification strategies, a strong pricing environment in its commercial trailer products segment, and operational improvements across its manufacturing facilities.

“First quarter results represent the best in our company’s history as we set first quarter records for sales, gross profit, income from operations and operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA),” said Dick Giromini, president and CEO. “Furthermore, we established new records for gross profit margin and operating income margin of 17.8% and 10.8%, respectively.”

These figures compare to a gross profit margin of 13.8% and operating income margin of 6.2% in the first quarter of last year

Wabash reported new trailer shipments for the first quarter were approximately 14,500, exceeding its previous guidance of 13,000 to 14,000 trailers, which it says was driven by strong customer pick-ups and favorable weather conditions.

“A robust backlog of $1.1 billion, overall trailer market projections by ACT Research and FTR, customer commentary, and outstanding operational execution across the business, have put us on pace to deliver another record year in 2016, our fifth consecutive year of record performance,” Giromini said. “As such, we are increasing our full-year adjusted earnings guidance to $1.65 to $1.75 per diluted share.

Wabash’s commercial trailer products’ net sales increased $40 million, or 12.8% from a year earlier, allowing gross profit to increase $30 million while operating income increased $29.3 million, or 128.6%.

Sales in the company’s diversified products business fell 23.6%, primarily to due lower tank trailer shipments, according to Wabash. Retail’s net sales of $34 million decreased 21.1%, primarily due to lower shipments of new trailers.