ransportation analysts are reporting that Class 8 truck orders soared in January to their highest level since 2006, according to early reports from transportation analysts at ACT Research and FTR.
Although its final numbers won’t be tallied for a few months, analyst FTR placed Class 8 truck orders at 47,200 units for the month. This represents an increase of 28 percent compared to another banner month in December and more than 116 percent better than January 2017.
“These levels were well above our already strong expectations and continue to indicate that the equipment markets are still reacting to the tight capacity in the truck marketplace,’’ said Jonathan Starks, chief operating officer for FTR. “January is normally a seasonally weaker month, except when the market is on a clear upswing. Near-record levels can’t last for long, but orders could stay quite elevated throughout the spring.’’
ACT Research, another leading industry research firm, said medium-duty Class 5-7 truck orders also showed strong orders, with January’s 31,700 units the third best month of orders since July 2006.
Analysts at Stifel Transportation projected Class 8 truc orders at more than 300,000 units for the year. However, Stifel also noted that when Class 8 truck orders exceed 300,000 units in a year, that usually represents the end of a cycle for buying. When this limit was breached in 1999, 2006 and 2015, the market declined at least 30 percent for the following two years.
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“Given the step-up in orders, we are increasing our 2018-2019 estimates,” Stifel said in its transportation equipment update. “We continue to believe the industry will remain strong in 2019, though 2018 may be difficult to top.’’