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Baird: Rentals Boost March Motorhome Sales

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May 17, 2013 by   Leave a Comment

Editor’s Note: The investment firm of Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter after this week’s release by Statistical Surveys Inc. of the summary of retail sales of motorhomes in the month of March. Excerpts from the Baird newsletter follow.

U.S. Motorhome retail +25%. According to data from Statistical Surveys, motorhome (Class A & C) retail increased 25% in March. Class A sales improved 11% while Class C retail jumped 43%. We believe timing of rental units may be creating monthly volatility. Thor motorhome retail grew 31% through two months of the company’s fiscal Q3 (+69% in March, +1.5% in February). Thor reported Q3 preliminary sales May 2. Winnebago motorhome retail improved 1% in its first month of fiscal Q3.

Motorhome retail registrations in the U.S. increased 25% in March. Class A registrations improved 11% while Class C reported registrations rebounded to +43% growth in March after declining 1% in February. We note that the timing of rental fleet sales may be skewing March Class C data higher (after skewing it lower in February). Year-to-date Class C retail improved 27% while Class A demand improved 21%. Industry comparisons become easier in April and May before picking up in the summer.

Solid QTD results for Thor. Thor motorhome retail increased 69% in March after a stagnant February (+1.5%) – we believe the timing of rental fleet units may have contributed to the monthly volatility. Through the first two months of Thor’s fiscal Q3, the company’s U.S. motorhome demand improved 31% – a result that may dampen fears of an excessive inventory build after the weak February retail report and Thor’s solid preliminary sales report. We model Thor North American retail growth of 20% in fiscal Q3.

Winnebago. Winnebago U.S. motorhome retail increased just 1% in March. We model Winnebago North American retail growth at 20% for the May quarter. We remain comfortable with our forecast, noting the early stage of the quarter, frequent upward data revisions, and expectation for additional retail reports prior to Winnebago’s quarterly report.

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