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Motley Fool: Did Thor, Winnebago Hit Potholes?

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February 17, 2014 by   Leave a Comment

Editor’s Note; The following opinion column comes was published by the Motley Fool analyzing Thor Industries Inc.’s preliminary 2Q report that sales would fall below expectations due to weather.

Recreational vehicle manufacturers Thor Industries Inc., Winnebago Industries Inc., and Berkshire-Hathaway-owned Forest River Inc. have coexisted for many years earning overall fantastic profits. When one stumbles, it can be an easy opportunity for the other two to grab market share gains. However, news out of Thor Industries may be a sign of temporary trouble for the industry as a whole.

Why Thor is looking a bit sore

In a press release on Feb. 4, Thor Industries warned that its second-quarter sales for period ending Jan. 31 will fall short. Continuing sales were down a hair at $636.3 million compared to $636.6 million last year. Sales of the much larger towable RVs were down 9.3% to $474.1 million, while sales of motorized RVs improved 42.5%.to $162.2 million.

Analysts had been expecting sales of $718.35 million so this is a significant shortfall by $82 million. CEO Bob Martin blamed the disappointment on “severe winter weather that has plagued the Midwest this year.” Severe cold and heavy snow resulted in several days of lost production. The company’s supply chain was affected by the weather on the roads as certain supplies had trouble coming in and certain deliveries had trouble coming out.

Double-edged sword

The good news is that there was no indication of weak or weakening demand but rather just a temporary production issue. Backlog jumped 37.1% to $845.2 million on a year-over-year basis and even 15.3% on a quarter-over-quarter sequential basis. The bad news is that demand has been so robust that it may be difficult for Thor Industries to catch up in the next one or two quarters as it’s already selling most if not all of its production. The company appears production-constrained rather than demand-constrained as backlog has been a strong and growing number for several quarters.

Winnebago has yet to announce its sales or earnings for the same period. Considering that the problems Thor Industries has experienced don’t appear to be company-specific, it might be reasonable to expect Winnebago to report similar problems. Long-term, neither company should be affected much by the temporary situation, although if Winnebago had better luck it could be an opportunity for it to take some market share from its larger rival. That would potentially have long-term effects.

To read the entire article click here.

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