For the third quarter of 2003, net sales increased 7.3 percent to $193.5 million, from $180.4 million in the prior year, driven by a 7 percent gain in unit shipments. Net loss for the quarter was $4.2 million while EBITDA (see definition below) totaled $27.0 million, a 6.3 percent improvement from $25.4 million reported in the 2002 period.
The improvement in sales was primarily due to the increase in shipping volumes while EBITDA performance was driven by the improvement in sales, continued improvements in manufacturing productivity and the elimination of rent expense associated with operating leases bought out in the first quarter of 2003. These positive EBITDA factors were partially offset by increased natural gas costs and downtime costs associated with capital improvement initiatives at Anchor's Warner Robins, Georgia facility.
"This was an exciting quarter for Anchor. The business is strong, reflected by an increase in sales during the quarter. We continued to strengthen our balance sheet and liquidity position by issuing an additional $50 million of notes and completing our initial public offering," said Richard M. Deneau, president and chief executive officer. "While our investment in plant upgrades adversely impacted our results for the quarter, we're confident that these initiatives will strengthen our long-term productivity. This, along with our strong order book for next year, will help us achieve our targeted results in 2004."
For the first nine months of 2003, net sales declined 2.8 percent to $542.8 million from $558.7 million in the prior year. EBITDA declined slightly to $75.1 million from $75.9 million in the prior year. These results reflected soft demand across the industry in the first half of 2003, as well as increased natural gas costs and downtime expenses for capital improvement projects at two of the Company's facilities. These costs were partially offset by productivity gains, pricing improvements and reduced rent expenses as described earlier.
"Sales for the Company and the industry were adversely affected in the first half of 2003 due to harsh weather conditions, military action in Iraq and the general softness in the economy. We are pleased to have that all behind us, and that we have returned to year-over-year sales increases," said Deneau.