Freight truck manufacturing group Paccar has reported higher net income for the first quarter of 2002 compared to the same period a year ago. The improvement reflects some uplift to North American orders - an encouraging sign after the precipitous decline to the market over the past two years.

Net income of $47.2 million ($.61 per share diluted) increased 7 percent from the $44.3 million ($.58 per share diluted) earned in the first quarter of 2001. First quarter net sales and financial services revenues were $1.5 billion.

"Paccar has earned a profit for 62 consecutive years, throughout all stages of the business cycle. The market continues to recognise the superior quality of Kenworth, Peterbilt, DAF and Foden trucks," said Mark C. Pigott, chairman and chief executive officer.

"Industry truck orders in North America have increased in the last couple months compared to the fourth quarter 2001," noted Pigott. "It appears that most of the increase in orders is due to 'pull-forward purchases,' as fleets try to minimize the negative impact of more costly engines being introduced on October 1, 2002. While this will likely have a favourable effect on second and third quarters, the fourth quarter of 2002 could be unfavourably impacted as a result of the accelerated buying. Kenworth and Peterbilt are increasing production rates at their plants in North America in response to the higher demand for their quality vehicles, as reflected in recent market share gains."

"DAF has increased its market share for Class 8 trucks to a record 13 percent, even as European industry truck sales are 15 percent lower in 2002 compared to the near record levels of 2001," stated David Hovind, president.