Rush Enterprises, which claims ownership of the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in North America, announced that first quarter Class 8 retail sales increased 104% over the same time period in 2011, significantly outpacing the U.S. Class 8 truck market, which increased by 48%. Rush’s Class 4-7 medium-duty sales increased 92% over the first quarter of 2011, also outpacing the U. S. Class 4-7 market, which increased 16%.

The company delivered 2,738 new heavy-duty trucks, 1,556 new medium-duty commercial vehicles, 277 new light-duty commercial vehicles and 1,252 used commercial vehicles during the first quarter of 2012, compared to 1,345 new heavy-duty trucks, 811 new medium-duty commercial vehicles, 112 new light-duty commercial vehicles and 1,107 used trucks during the first quarter of 2011.

“Our increase in Class 8 truck sales was primarily the result of continued strong activity in the energy sector, replacement truck deliveries to larger fleets, increased stock truck sales and delivery of natural gas trucks sales to several large refuse fleets. Our Class 8 truck sales performance this quarter is evidence that the company's strategy to offer vocational products for a diverse range of commercial vehicle market segments is working. We believe natural gas will grow into a viable alternate fuel and are pleased to represent truck brands offering products utilizing this technology,” said W. M. “Rusty” Rush, president & CEO.

“We expect U. S. Class 8 retail sales will reach approximately 200,000 units in 2012, driven primarily by continued replacement truck purchases from large fleets and activity in the energy sector,” explained Rush.

Industry analysts forecast U. S. Class 4-7 retail sales to be 160,000 units in 2012. “Through 2012, we believe demand for used trucks will remain consistent and residual values will remain strong. We anticipate that 2013 and 2014 will be strong truck sales markets,” he added.

Rush’s Class 4-7 market share accounted for 4% of the total U.S. market, up from 2.5% in the first quarter of 2011. “This growth is primarily the result of acquisitions in 2011, expanding our network to include Navistar, Hino, Isuzu, and UD franchises in Atlanta, Georgia and Ford and Isuzu franchises Orlando, Florida and Whittier, California,” Rush said. “Our first quarter light-duty sales also increased by 147% compared to the first quarter of last year as a result of Ford franchise acquisitions in Florida and California.”

Aftermarket services accounted for about 61% of Rush’s total gross profits for the first quarter 2012. Parts, service and body shop revenues reached a new record quarterly high, increasing by 35% as compared to first quarter 2011, despite the usual seasonality experienced during this timeframe. This contributed to a quarterly absorption rate of 116.7%.

“Our strong parts, service and body shop activity continues to be the result of increased service needs of aging vehicles, continued activity in the energy sector and expanded service solutions,” said Rush. “We are extremely pleased with results generated by our increased focus on aftermarket solutions — such as vehicle up-fitting, body and equipment installation, advanced diagnostics and jobsite mobile service — outside the scope of services offered by truck dealers in the past. We expect parts, service and body shop revenues to remain strong throughout 2012,” he added.

In the first quarter, the company’s gross revenues totaled $777.3 million, a 74.2% increase from gross revenues of $446.1 million reported for the first quarter ended March 31, 2011. Net income for the quarter was $15.9 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, compared with net income of $7.3 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, in the quarter ended March 31, 2011. Parts, service and body shop sales revenue was $196.6 million in the first quarter of 2012, compared to $145.6 million in the first quarter of 2011.