Net income for the quarter was $11.8 million on sales of $358 million versus $2.2 million on sales of $326.8 million for fourth quarter 1998. Net income for 1999 was $38.8 million on sales of $1.5 billion versus $23.3 million on $1.3 billion for 1998.
"We entered 1999 with a strategy of improving our margins while restraining growth," noted chairman, president and CEO Jerry Ehrlich. "As a result of this strategy, we achieved continuous margin improvement throughout the year with gross margins reaching 9.9% during the fourth quarter."
Ehrlich said the company's DuraPlate composite trailer, introduced in 1996, has become the number one selling trailer in the nation.
In 1999 Wabash's electronics division introduced an antilock braking system which "will be the first in a series of proprietary electronic products," he said. "Proprietary products now account for over 60% of our manufacturing revenue," he noted.
The company also plans to expand its chain of retail branches which, last year, generated over 20% of Wabash's total revenue.
Ehrlich said Wabash's backlog was a strong $1.1 billion at the end of 1999.