Engine maker Cummins Inc. posted $39 million in after-tax profit on sales of $1.65 billion in the third quarter, up from a meager $3 million in after-tax profit on sales of $1.41 billion in the same period last year.

Chairman & CEO Tim Solso said much of that profit gain came from increased demand for heavy-duty engines in advance of the October 1 deadline for new diesel emission standards, along with savings from ongoing cost-reduction efforts.

He also noted that the Columbus, IN-based engine maker's partnership with DaimlerChrysler to provide diesel engines for the new Dodge Ram light truck also bolstered Cummins' profits. Solso said that partnership resulted in a 21% increase in light-duty engine shipments compared to the third quarter of 2001.

Cummins added that total third-quarter truck engine sales topped $1.03 billion, a 35% increase over the same period last year. Revenues for the heavy-duty truck segment were up 70%, with medium-duty truck and bus revenues increasing 41% compared to the third quarter of 2001. Dodge Ram sales and a significant increase in engines for recreational vehicles boosted revenues in the light-duty automotive and RV business by 43% this quarter compared to a year ago, Cummins said.

However, the forecast for the fourth quarter does not look as rosy. Cummins is projecting lower truck engine sales in the fourth quarter based on the projected fall-off in the North American heavy-duty truck market.