Oshkosh Shares Rise 19% as Quarterly Profit Beats Estimates

Oshkosh Corp., the U.S. military’s biggest supplier of heavy-duty trucks, rose the most in more than three years after reporting first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

Shares of the company gained 19 percent to $41.08 in New York, the biggest one-day increase since Aug. 27, 2009. They are up 39 percent this year.

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based company today said adjusted profit in the first quarter ended Dec. 31 was 60 cents a share on increased sales of construction equipment, fire trucks and emergency vehicles. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was 31 cents a share. Sales fell 6 percent to $1.76 billion.

“Everything seems to be going their way because of construction picking up,” Walter Liptak, an analyst at Barrington Research Associates Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

The company’s strategy to improve profit “is paying off more than investors thought and that’s to management’s credit,” Liptak said. He has a buy rating on the company.

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn last month dropped his bid to buy the truckmaker after failing to receive enough shareholder support. Icahn, 76, was Oshkosh’s largest shareholder. He has since decreased his stake in the company to 4.7 percent from 9.5 percent.

‘Strong’ Results

In the quarter, Oshkosh boosted non-defense sales from the year-ago period. Defense revenue fell 21 percent to $829 million due to an expected decline in military truck sales, the company said.

“We started the year strong with results that exceeded our expectations,” Oshkosh Chief Executive Officer Charles Szews said in a statement.

The company forecasts 2013 revenue at $7.4 billion to $7.7 billion. It plans to buy back about $175 million of shares over the next nine to 15 months.

“There is increasing evidence housing is poised for a nice recovery,” driving demand for the company’s aerial work platforms and cement mixers, Jamie Cook, an analyst at Credit Suisse in New York, said in an e-mail.

(Updates shares in the first and second paragraphs.)
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