Volvo AB said shipments rose in February, its first month of year-on-year growth since before the global financial crisis, as firmer demand in Asia helped offset lingering weakness on both sides of the Atlantic.
Volvo, the world's No.2 truckmaker, said unit shipments rose 11 percent, the first year-on-year increase since August 2008, while shipments were up 27 percent compared with January.
The deliveries were higher than our estimates, but it was mainly outside Europe, so the question is if it means all that much for the forecasts, analyst Carl Holmquist at Danske Bank said. But if one wants further proof that the recovery is underway, then this is additional evidence.
The improving shipments were confined mainly to medium-weight vehicles and the Asian market where prices and margins are lower than for the group's key heavy-duty truck sales in its European home market.
The problem as we see it is that this (rise) relates to medium weight trucks and as far as our profit forecasts are concerned ... if they (deliveries) came in 10 percent better than we had expected, it still doesn't mean a 10 percent upgrade of the (earnings) forecast, Holmquist said.
Volvo shares were up 1.5 percent to 75.75 crowns by 0831 GMT, outperforming a 1.1 percent gain in the Stockholm bourse's blue-chip index .OMXS30. The stock has risen more than 23 percent over the past month amid stirring recovery hopes.
Volvo, which sells trucks under the Renault, Mack, UD Trucks and Eicher brands in addition to its own name, said deliveries fell 19 percent in Europe and were down 1 percent in North America.
But in Asia -- the biggest market for Volvo in the month in terms of the number of units delivered -- shipments rose 71 percent from a year ago.
The global financial crisis in late 2008 sent the highly cyclical heavy-duty truck market into its steepest downturn in decades, cutting off access to easy credit to help fund vehicle purchases and pushing economies across the globe into recession.
Hit by plunging demand, Volvo fell to a 17 billion crown ($2.4 billion) loss last year while European peers such as Daimler, the world top truck maker, and Germany's MAN SE also skidded into the red.
Massive government stimulus has helped foster the beginnings of an economic recovery and signs have emerged in recent months the truck market is also on the mend, though a return to the booming sales seen before the crisis looks distant.
Volvo has said it would raise production in the coming months to reflect stronger orders and sees market growth this year of around 10 percent in Europe and about 20 to 30 percent in North America, which was hit much earlier by the United States' financial woes.
Earlier this month, Swedish rival Scania also said it would raise output and bring back staff to full-time work, mainly due to strong demand in Brazil, though it also said some market recovery was also underway in Europe.
(Additional reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Dan Lalor and Karen Foster)
($1=7.206 Swedish Crown)