Oshkosh Corp., parent company of aerial equipment manufacturer JLG Industries and a leading manufacturer of specialty vehicles and vehicle bodies, last week reported a fiscal first-quarter net loss of $20.6 million (28 cents per share), on net sales of $1.39 billion, compared with earnings per share of $0.50 and net sales of $1.5 billion and net income of $37.3 million in 2008’s fiscal first quarter.
“We are obviously disappointed in the overall performance,” said Oshkosh chairman and CEO Robert Bohn. “It has been wide reported that global manufacturing orders and activity fell sharply in November and December 2008. Certain of our businesses shared this experience.” Bohn said the company reduced staff 7 percent, in addition to workforce reductions made in the summer of 2008.
Access equipment segment sales decreased 39.7 percent to $368.4 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2009 ended Dec. 31, 2008, compared with $610.5 million in the year-ago quarter. The sales drop reflected substantially lower demand in North America and Europe. Tightening credit markets and recessionary economies further impacted construction of new residential and non-residential projects. European equipment sales declined 51 percent while North American equipment sales plunged 45 percent year over year.
The access equipment segment incurred an operating loss of $47 million, or 12.8 percent of sales, compared to operating income of $61.1 million or 10 percent of sales in the fiscal first quarter of 2008. While sales volume dropped, raw material costs rose substantially. Provisions for credit losses totalled $13.6 million as a result of the deteriorating international business climate.
“Since we first began layoffs at JLG in July 2008, we have reduced staffing by about one third, plus the significant number of employees who are affected by the one- to two-week per month production shut down,” Oshkosh president Charles Szews told an investor conference. “We don't like doing this, but the weak environment is forcing us to take action. We are continuing investments in new products to move this business forward. Our evolutionary new product, the LiftPod, is a compact and easy-to-use mobile lift assist that retails for just under $2,000 and has been named the grand winner of the 2008 Rental Equipment Register innovative product award.
“Finally in November 2008, JLG President Craig Paylor and I were in Tianjin, China, for the ground breaking of a new production facility for access equipment. We are very appreciative of the support we see for this project from the Tianjin Municipal Government and from the Civil Aviation Administration of China. We expect the facility to start production in 2010 to support our access equipment sales throughout Asia.”