DESPITE the production disruption of a deferred order from one of its largest U.S. customers, Winnipeg bus-maker New Flyer Industries topped the billion-dollar mark in revenue last year — and is now looking at exporting overseas.
In reporting year-end results Wednesday, New Flyer CEO Paul Soubry said the company's priority is to maintain its position as the market leader in North America, where it has about 37 per cent market share. But he said the company has also begun researching the possibility of competing in overseas markets.
He said heavy-duty buses in North America have a lifespan of 12 to 20 years. In overseas markets, the buses' lifespan is about half that.
"We are going to take a look to see if maybe we can export our model overseas," Soubry said, mentioning Europe and Asia as possible markets.
In addition to record sales of $1.1 billion (up 14.4 per cent from 2008), the company also generated record EBITDA (earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $100.1 million (up 8.2 per cent) and increased revenue from its aftermarket business by 12.7 per cent to $108.2 million.
Increased average bus prices were partially responsible for the increases.
New Flyer refinanced long-term debt and signed a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with its Winnipeg workers.
But an order for 140 diesel-electric hybrid articulated buses (or 280 equivalent units) with the Chicago Transit Authority in the second half of the year forced production rates down to 36 buses a week from 50.
But Soubry said the company overcame that disruption, implemented new technologies and expects to keep rates at between 40 to 42 buses a week throughout 2010.
New Flyer said it lost US$30.4 million or 64 cents per diluted share for the financial year ended Jan. 3.
The company attributed the loss to non-cash charges totalling $64.3 million in the year compared with non-cash recoveries of $52.5 million in the previous year.
— With files from The Canadian Press
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.