Navistar, the US-based heavy-duty truck manufacturer, has reported a net loss of $56 million, or 93 cents a share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31. That compares with a year-earlier loss of $35 million, or 58 cents.

Navistar has been battling with tough market conditions for freight trucks in the US over the past year. The US market is suffering from a glut of nearly new trucks and inventory at all the main truck makers has been high, compounding the adverse impact on the industry and market of a slowing economy.

However, the Q1 results were broadly in line with analysts’ estimates.

John R. HORNE, Navistar chairman, president and chief executive officer, said that the business is operating well despite the challenging market conditions and a forecast for reduced 2002 industry volume.

According to Horne, the company has not changed its earnings outlook for the year, but with the company’s reduced forecast for heavy truck industry retail demand and the softness of the medium truck market, “the challenge for the second quarter and the year has increased.”

He added that while leading truck industry indicators such as pricing, used truck inventories and truck tonnage have stabilised, the demand for new trucks is lower than when the company completed its business plan for 2002, which occurred before the events of September 11. As a result, the company is lowering its forecast for total truck industry volume in fiscal 2002 in the United States and Canada by 10,000 units to 284,500 units.

Demand for heavy trucks for the year ending October 31, 2002 is now forecast at 144,000 units, down from the previous forecast of 154,000 units. Demand for medium trucks remains unchanged at 112,500 units, including 87,500 Class 6-7 trucks. School bus demand remains at 28,000 units. The company’s truck shipments in the second quarter ending April 30, 2002 will be approximately 8 percent lower than a year ago.

“We continue to watch the market trends closely and will adjust our forecast as necessary,” Horne said.