Editor’s Note: The investment firm of Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter after this week’s release of the February towable RV sales report by Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI). Excerpts from the Baird newsletter follow.
U.S. towable retail up 4% in February. According to data from Statistical Surveys, unit retail sales in major towable categories (travel trailers and fifth-wheels) increased 4% in February, decelerating from the rapid growth in January against a more difficult comparison (+17%). Thor demand remained flat in February, the first month of the company’s fiscal Q3. Winnebago (a smaller player in the towable market) already reported results for the February quarter.
February towable demand grew 4% (travel trailers and fifth-wheels). Travel trailer demand increased 4%, while fifth-wheel retail sales improved 3%. The towable market faced a difficult comparison in February (+17%) and faces an even tougher comparison in March (+22%). Data indicate that towable demand increased 14% through February. After likely adjustments, the SSI data appear to be consistent with the Q1 Baird/RVDA dealer survey. RV dealers told us towable retail improved 9-10% in the first quarter of 2013.
Thor retail flat in February. Thor U.S. travel trailer and fifth-wheel retail remained flat in February, which represents the first month of Thor’s fiscal Q3. Weaker demand in fifth-wheels (-6%) offset growth in travel trailers (+4%). We model Thor North American retail growth of 8% in fiscal Q3, but note that the preliminary SSI data are frequently revised higher.
Winnebago. Winnebago already reported fiscal Q2 results on March 28. Winnebago results implied North American towable retail declined 1% – we use the Winnebago data in our model. Towables represent just 10% of revenue for the company, which entered the market in 2011 with under 1% share — note that given Winnebago’s small market position, even a few incremental units can lead to large swings in growth rates.