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Manitex International has recorded increases in revenue and backlog in its 2011 first quarter results.

The USA-based boom truck and rough terrain crane manufacturer saw net revenue hit US$31.7 million, representing a 44% year-on-year increase, and a sequential increase of $2.2 million or 7% from the fourth quarter of 2010. Excluding the impact of the CVS Ferrari operations, net revenues increased 15% from the prior year's comparable period.

There were revenue increases in both operating segments, with lifting equipment increasing 40% through a combination of cranes at 45%, and material handling products at 35%, and equipment distribution increasing 152%. "Crane sales continue to reflect strong demand for larger tonnage product from the specialty energy and utility markets, in both the US and internationally," said a company spokesman.

As of March 31, consolidated backlog stood at $48 million, an increase of 20% or $8 million from December 31, 2010. EBITDA for the first quarter of 2011 was $2.1 million, or 6.5% of sales, compared to $1.8 million or 8.3% for the first quarter of 2010. Gross profit of $6.5 million was an improvement of $1.2 million compared to $5.2 million in the first quarter of 2010.

Gross margin of 20.4% of sales did represent a drop, however, compared to 23.7% for the first quarter of 2010. The reduction was largely due to a less favourable sales mix in the quarter, said the company.

"First quarter sales and profits were in line with our expectations and we are particularly encouraged by the improvement in sales and growth in our backlog. Our first quarter expenses included approximately $500,000 of unusually high sales and marketing expenses, equivalent to $.04 per share, related to the ConExpo convention which is held once every three years and from which we believe we obtained numerous market opportunities as well as completing two very important distribution agreements for our Manitex business," said David Langevin, Manitex chairman and chief executive officer.

"Subsequent to the end of the first quarter we were pleased to announce that we had been notified that we had successfully moved through the next stage of the process to acquire certain assets of CVS SpA that operated in the container handling equipment market. With this progress, we would expect to complete a transaction during the third quarter of the year, well in advance of our initial expectations, which will help us to further penetrate this attractive and growing market segment," Langevin continued.

Concerning future prospects, Langevin added, "We expect the second quarter to show a continuation of our recent quarter's trend with an increase in sales approximating to the increase in our backlog, together with improving operating leverage. At the same time, we expect to see an increase in gross profit resulting from our sales expansion but we anticipate a continuing challenge in gross profit percentages due to a change in product mix and the impact of material cost increases that are being seen across a wide range of the supply chain."

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