UPDATE: Wabash National stock dives

April 29, 2008

Shares of Wabash National Corp. plummeted 15 percent today after the Lafayette-based truck-trailer manufacturer reported more red ink than analysts expected.

The stock fell $1.50, to $8.50, by mid-afternoon.

Wabash said it lost $6.4 million in the first quarter, a reversal from a $1 million profit a year earlier.

The loss amounted to 21 cents a share, much more than the 14-cent loss anticipated by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

New trailer sales plummeted 43 percent, to 6,300 units, in the quarter ended March 31. However, Wabash said its backlog of orders increased to $537 million, up from $336 million in the quarter ended in December.

Wabash and other trailer makers have struggled as the economy has slowed. The company laid off nearly 300 workers in recent weeks.

In March, Wabash announced it would build a plant in Kentucky to fulfill its long-term production needs because workers were hard to find in the Lafayette area.

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