Supreme Industries, Inc. (NYSE Amex: STS) reported that gross profit improved 67% to $10.9 million from last year's $6.5 million for the first quarter ending March 31.

Consolidated net sales increased 6% to $72.5 million for the quarter, up from $68.4 million in last year's comparable period. Gross profit, as a percentage of sales, expanded to 15%, compared with 13.1% in the fourth quarter of 2011, and 9.5% in the first quarter of 2011. The gross margin expansion is primarily due to the effects of the favorable product mix and labor efficiencies implemented during the second half of 2011.

The company reported net income from continuing operations of $2.6 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, for the 2012 quarter, compared with a loss from continuing operations of $1.0 million, or $0.07 per share, in the prior-year first quarter. Including the impact from discontinued operations, net income improved to $0.17 per diluted share, reversing the year-ago net loss of $0.10 per share. Net income for both periods excluded a tax provision due to the company's valuation allowance.

"We are pleased to report our third consecutive quarter of profitability and are encouraged by the financial progress our organization has achieved,‚ÄĚ said Supreme's Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer Matthew Long. ‚ÄúThe momentum that began to take hold during the third quarter of 2011 continued through the first quarter of 2012. We believe these ongoing efforts should yield benefits as we progress through the year."

Working capital was $41.1 million at March 31, 2012, compared with $35.8 million at Dec. 31, 2011. In addition, the company made strategic investments totaling $2.6 million in facilities and equipment during the first quarter of 2012. Total debt was $20.3 million at March 31, 2012, compared with $15.9 million at Dec. 31, 2011, and $30.1 million at April 2, 2011. Stockholders' equity was $57.9 million, or $3.82 per share, at March 31, 2012, compared with $55.3 million, or $3.75 per share, at Dec. 31, 2011. Net cash used in operating activities during the first quarter of 2012 totaled $2.6 million, compared with net cash used in operating activities of $4.3 million in 2011.

"Our nearly 1,900 dedicated employees remain focused on achieving sustained profitability and consistency of performance in all facets of our organization," Long concluded.