Wabash National Corporation manufactures standard and customized truck trailers and related transportation equipment primarily in North America. The company's two segments are Manufacturing, and Retail and Distribution. The company operates 11 retail branches and sells to industrial size trucking companies. The company is affected by trends in demand for transportation of goods, especially by the Automobile Industry and the Construction Industry
Started in 1985, Wabash has grown immensely to service many large scale trucking companies. Wabash has been very hard hit by the economic slowdown, with negative earnings in both 2008 and 2009.
According to the A.C.T. Research Company, total domestic trailer industry shipments in 2009 were approximately 79,000, or a decline of 45% from the 143,000 trailers shipped in 2008 and a 62% drop from the 213,000 trailers shipped in 2007. Total demand for trailers in 2009 dropped to levels the industry has not seen since 1975 with dry van demand at its lowest levels since 1963. This reflects the weakness of truck freight and the fall in new home construction and the automotive industry. According to the company, the overall trailer market has improved markedly in 2010. Wabash's health is tied to the health of the trailer and freight industry.
The trucking industry has experienced three cycles over the last twenty years, roughly consistent with the health of the overall economy. The trailer industry generally precedes overall transportation industry cycles. The most recent cycle peaked in 2006 with overall trucking shipments of 280,000 and bottomed in 2009 with shipments of 79,000 trailers. These long cycles are something investors should be well aware of.
Wabash, Great Dane LP, and Utility are the top three trailer manufacturers in the United States and account for more than half of U.S. new trailer market share, with approximately 59% in 2010. Wabash has a 21% market share of total shipments in the US. Other competitors include Hyundai Translead and Stoughton.