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New Flyer reports third consecutive quarter of improved orders

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It’s getting more difficult to find a seat on the bus and that’s good news for Winnipeg bus maker New Flyer Industries.

After struggling through a period of weak orders following the big financial recession, New Flyer’s order books are getting much stronger.

Total order activity in the second half of 2012 was much better than the previous four quarters and represents the third consecutive quarter of improved orders.

In the fourth quarter of 2012 the company booked total orders — including both firm orders and options — of 1,055 equivalent units, representing the company’s highest level of order intake since the fourth quarter of 2008.

An equivalent unit (EU) gives an approximate measure of the size of a bus, and a longer than typical 40-foot bus represents two units.

New firm orders were received in the fourth quarter of 2012 for 407 EUs with a total value of $191.6 million, a significant increase compared to firm orders of just nine EUs valued at $3.8 million in the fourth fiscal quarter ended January 1, 2012.

New options were received in the quarter for 648 EUs worth $273.1 million, compared to no new options awarded during the same period in 2011.

New Flyer was also successful at converting options for 190 EUs with a total value of $74.6 million during the quarter as compared to 152 EUs with a total value of $64.4 million last year.

In addition to New Flyer’s success in building its order book, the total bid universe — an indicator of the forecast for overall transit bus market demand and active bids — has increased by 46 per cent in the last year.

New Flyer’s order activity could receive an early boost in the first quarter of 2013 with the possibility of a big sale to LA Metro.

The Los Angeles transit authority has recommended to its board to buy 550 New Flyer compressed natural gas buses for $302.9 million and an option for an additional 350.

That recommendation goes before a committee of L.A. Metro’s board on Jan. 17. and to the full board, on Jan. 24.

New Flyer shares were up 24 cents to $8.87 on about twice the normal trading volume.

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