Spartan Motors, the Charlotte, Michigan-based manufacturer of custom motorhome chassis, fire truck chassis and emergency-rescue vehicles, reported net earnings of $US1.3 million, or $0.10 per share, on sales of $61.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2003, compared with $2.2 million, or $0.18 per share, on sales of $63.4 million for the same quarter of last year.


For the full year, Spartan reported net earnings of $6.0 million, or $0.49 per share, on net sales of $237.4 million in 2003, compared with $11.7 million, or $0.97 per share, on sales of $259.5 million in 2002.


“From a pure financial perspective, 2003 was not a great year, just a good year. However, it was critical for us to focus on building the foundation and improving our operations from a long-term perspective,” said CEO John Sztykiel.


Spartan said the merger of its fire truck operations under the Crimson Fire brand and the consolidation of its ambulance operations resulted in approximately $1.4 million in non-recurring costs in 2003.


During the fourth quarter, sales were essentially flat compared with the third quarter of 2003, and down 3.7% compared to the fourth quarter of 2002. Spartan reported net sales of $61.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2003 compared with $63.4 million in Q4 2002 and said stronger fire truck chassis sales partially offset declines in motorhome chassis and emergency vehicle sales.


Consolidated gross margin decreased to 14.9% in the fourth quarter of 2003, compared to 16.9% for the same period in 2002. Operating margin declined to 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter from 5.0 percent in the prior-year period. Margins were impacted by lower overhead absorption due to the sales decline, as well as start-up costs related to Crimson Fire’s Aerial initiative.