Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. conducted a survey of over 100 RV dealers to assess recent trends during the second quarter. The following offers a summary of the results.
Solid results – but cautious commentary. Dealers reports on traffic, retail, inventory, credit, and sentiment look good – but cautious dealer comments temper our enthusiasm. We see value for patient investors – but until economic fundamentals regain better traction, some investors may trim into strength, limiting rallies.
• Traffic up, but deteriorated in June. Traffic improved versus last year, but deteriorated as the quarter unfolded. Recall that traffic surged in spring following a mild winter, potentially pulling forward some demand. Despite mixed traffic, dealers reported surprisingly strong retail trends, including 5-10% motorhome growth and 15-20% towable growth. A harder look at the motorhome data indicates broadly muted growth with pockets of robust demand.
• Inventory appears lean – but dealers want deals. More dealers report that inventory is “too low” than “too high,” a good indication that inventory is lean. Dealers report 103 days of towable inventory (down from 113 days last year) and 90 days of motorhome inventory (down from 113 last year). Order stats are strong, but some dealers lack an appetite to restock ahead of the open house season this fall in anticipation of better deals. As economic trends deteriorate – the urgency to restock just isn’t there.
• Dealer sentiment getting better. Sentiment among dealers improved again, hitting the highest level since 2008. The improved attitude is surprising given recent the mixed tone of results.
• Financing stable. Credit availability remains good. Customers with good credit scores don’t have trouble obtaining financing, but buyers may be more reluctant to tap credit lines today.
• Outlook. The survey results are unusually difficult to interpret this quarter. Retail growth and other metrics point to a surge in demand – but dealer comments simply don’t back it up. We see value for patient investors and remain comfortable with our estimates, but would not over-react to the robust retail metrics.
Please contact your Baird representative for a complete copy of the 36-page dealer survey.