March truck orders not as light as they appear

Despite a sequentially lower number of 22,100, March heavy duty truck orders showed improvement overall, with year-on-year orders up about 10 percent, and the season-to-date decline in heavy duty trucks actually improving another 300bp. With these orders against an easy April comparison, this bodes well for the industry outlook entering the summer. 

  • Preliminary March Net Orders Increase YoY. ACT (America Commercial Truck) Research reported net orders of 22,100, a 10.4 percent increase YoY. This is in line with historical seasonal movement. On a "season to date" basis, HD truck orders are 10 percent lower than the prior year, decreasing the difference in order season by 300 bps relative to the 16 percent difference after January orders and 13 percent in February. Orders are still slightly below our expectations, although we believe there will be some improvement in coming months given the concerns over fiscal cliff and a lower-than-expected spring order season last year. We believe the early timing of Easter this year could have affected the March figures.
  • Medium Duty Net Orders Were a Positive 15,200. This was a pause from last month's 13 percent increase YoY, is consistent with an improving housing market, and bodes well for NAV, which has a number one share in this market.

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