Motley Fool: Thor 1Q Reflects Motorhome Surge

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December 10, 2013 by   Comments Off on Motley Fool: Thor 1Q Reflects Motorhome Surge

Editor’s Note: The following column, authored by Nickey Friedman for The Motley Fool, offers a different perspective on Thor Industries Inc.’s recent earnings statement that analysts said fell short of expectations.

When Thor Industries reported its most recent results, the market let out a yawn. But investors who only look at the overall numbers are missing out on a fantastic growth story. While it’s true that this is the off-season for RV sales, one segment of Thor Industries’ business is nonetheless taking off like a rocket.

Thor Industries reported its fiscal first-quarter results on Dec. 2. Overall revenue inched up 5% to $800 million while net income from continuing operations shot up 27% to $36.4 million, or 68 cents per share.

Of the $800 million in revenue, the towable RV segment saw sales slip 3% to $662.9 million. While that’s certainly uninspiring, the motorized RV segment saw sales explode 45% to $177.1 million.

Here’s where it gets interesting

Thor Executive Chairman Peter Orthwein pointed out that this past quarter and the next are “characterized by a more seasonally competitive environment.” Of course, purchasing and using RVs tend to be more popular activities in the warmer months than the colder ones. Yet despite this, motorized RV sales actually increased sequentially by 5.3% in this fall quarter when compared to the previous summer quarter, even given an unusually cold October.

This suggests that demand for the motorized RV segment is accelerating very fast, and could be much more pronounced beginning in the spring selling season. Motorized RV sales still only made up 22% of revenue this quarter, but that’s up from 15% a year ago. As motorized RV sales continue to grow as a percentage of overall sales, the impact of its contribution might increase further.

The backlog story

Backlog further paints a picture of growing demand for motorized RVs. While backlog was up significantly for both segments, the motorized RV portion is frankly going bananas. Towable RV backlog was up 13.5%, or $49.9 million, to $419.8 million. Motorized RV backlog was up a jaw-dropping 113.6%, or $166.6 million, to $313.4 million.

Motorized RV backlog is now at 42.7% of the overall total backlog. In terms of absolute dollars, the motorized backlog grew 234% higher than the towable RV backlog. At this pace, motorized RV demand could overtake towable RV demand.

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