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Sweden's Volvo truckmaker posts Q1 loss as sales drop to 5-year low

STOCKHOLM – Swedish truckmaker AB Volvo sank into a first quarter loss as sales slid to a five-year low, the company said Thursday.

First quarter sales for the Volvo Group, which includes construction equipment and buses, plummeted 25 per cent year-on-year to 58.3 billion kronor ($8.8 billion). A year ago the Goteborg-based group recorded a sales record of 77.8 billion kronor.

CEO Olof Persson said the sales drop was “primarily the result of the weak order intake in late 2012” and noted that 23 per cent fewer trucks were delivered over the three-month period compared to a year ago.

“With the exception of South America, deliveries of trucks were generally low during the quarter,” Persson said.

The company ended the quarter with a loss of 248 million kronor ($37 million) compared to a 4.1 billion profit in the first quarter of 2012. Operating profit, meanwhile, tanked 92 per cent to 482 million kronor.

Volvo said it is eyeing a quick turnaround in sales volume this year thanks to an “intense” series of launches, which will include the new Volvo FMX truck and the Volvo VNX tractor.

Persson said the order intake in the first quarter was up 30 per cent compared to the last quarter of 2012, but that the second quarter would be a challenge for both Volvo and its suppliers as they change over to new products.

“The high level of activity and the many launches in 2013 naturally incur costs,” he said, adding that, starting from 2014, “we will meet the markets with a product range that is the most competitive in the group’s history.”