The year-over-year improvement in gross profit was driven by the absence of inventory write-downs in the current year quarter, the increase in shipments, wider spreads between average selling prices and raw material costs and lower unit conversion costs.
Total unit production for the third quarter was up 22% from last year and 6% on a sequential basis from Q2, which increased our overall capacity utilization at 52% from 49% in the second quarter and 42% a year ago, and reduced our unit conversion costs relative to both periods.
SG&A expense for the quarter increased $0.3 million or 7.5% from the prior year, primarily due to the relative changes in the cash surrender value of life insurance policies which was partially offset by a reduction in bad debt expense. Cash surrender values depreciated during the current year quarter due to the drop-off in the financial markets while increasing in the prior year.
Our effective income tax rate for the third quarter rose to 50.8% from 41.5% a year ago, primarily due to about 150,000 of tax reserve adjustments that were recorded during the current year period together with changes in permanent book versus tax differences. If we were to exclude the reserve adjustments and the 501,000 benefit that was recorded in the second quarter relating to the increase in our prior year federal tax refund, our effective tax rate would have been in the 44% to 45% range for both Q3 and the nine month period. These percentages are still higher than our effective rate for the past few years which was in the neighborhood of 36% due to the amplified impact of permanent book versus tax differences resulting from the lower pre-tax earnings in the current year.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com