"We are also greatly encouraged by the ramp-up of Crimson Fire Aerials and what our status as a full-line fire truck maker is allowing us to do in terms of bid activity, attracting three new large and influential dealers, and the overall improved market perception of Crimson Fire."
Key Metrics On a consolidated basis, Spartan posted a return on invested capital (ROIC) of 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004 compared with ROIC of 10.8 percent in the same period in 2003. (Spartan defines return on invested capital by calculating operating income, less taxes, on an annualized basis, divided by total shareholders' equity.) Spartan said ROIC was 8.4 percent for the full year 2004, up from 8.0 percent from the prior year. Consolidated backlog grew to a record $117.6 million as of December 31, 2004, compared with backlog of $95.4 million at year-end 2003 and backlog of $106.5 million at the end of the third quarter 2004.
"Our below-target ROIC performance reflects the investments we made in plant consolidations and operating improvements at our EVTeam and masks the better than 25 percent ROIC we achieved at Spartan Chassis," said Knapp. "We believe we can return to our 15-20 percent ROIC goal in 2005 based on the operational team and structure we have in place as well as our strong new business wins emphasized in our record backlog in the fourth quarter."
During the 2004 fourth quarter, Spartan generated $0.8 million in operating cash flows. Spartan has no debt and ended the year with $12.0 million in cash and marketable securities.
"We are continuing to aggressively manage operating expenses, yet remain steadfast in our commitment to invest in product development opportunities which will provide future growth and profit," said Sztykiel. "We remain on strong footing financially and our balance sheet is more than sufficient to support current and future growth initiatives.
"Looking ahead to 2005, we expect to see a return to better production flow for our EVTeam, with margin improvement from price increases kicking in during the second quarter and a return to profitability in the second half of the year. We also expect our focus on customer partnerships, innovation and premium products to continue to pay off in strong sales and continued market share advances company-wide over the course of 2005."
Fourth Quarter and 2004 Conference Call & Webcast Spartan Motors will host a conference call at 10 a.m. Eastern today to discuss these results and current business trends. To listen to the call, please go to http://www.spartanmotors.com/webcasts.asp.
About Spartan Motors
Spartan Motors, Inc. (www.spartanmotors.com) designs, engineers and manufactures custom chassis and vehicles for the recreational vehicle, fire truck, ambulance and emergency-rescue markets. The Company's brand names - SpartanTM, Crimson FireTM, Crimson Fire AerialsTM, and Road RescueTM - are known in their market niches for quality, value, service and being the first to market with innovative products. The Company employs approximately 900 at facilities in Michigan, Alabama, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Spartan Motors is publicly traded on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol SPAR.