This week’s segment of “RV Capital Talk” features an in interview with Tim Hyland, president of GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) RV Group, discussing a recent survey showing overall optimism in the industry as dealers are increasing their inventory levels this year in anticipation of a strong selling season. To view the video scroll to the right side of the RVBUSINESS.com home page.
Dealers of recreational vehicles are increasing their inventory levels this year in anticipation of a strong selling season, according to GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) business, a leading provider of financing to the industry. That comes on the heels of a very positive 2013, when total wholesale shipments exceeded that of the prior year by more than 12%.
“Dealers are increasing their orders over last year’s levels, indicating continued confidence when it comes to consumer demand,” said Tim Hyland, president of CDF’s RV group. “Despite the distractions of politics, weather and healthcare in 2013, the RV industry surged ahead. We expect growth to continue through the spring and summer of 2014, even though some of these headwinds remain.”
CDF tracks trends in the RV industry related to inventory finance through its network of independent dealers, then reports on those trends to create awareness and understanding of market dynamics.
One measure to watch is inventory turn, which remained well above a healthy rate of 2.0X through year-end. The turn ratio reflects the number of times a dealer’s inventory is sold and replaced over a period of time, typically annually.
Aging, the ratio of financed inventory less than a year old to the amount of inventory greater than a year old, is also an indication of dealer health. RV aging has steadily declined over the past two years and remains under 10%, indicative of a healthy portfolio in aggregate.
CDF has supported the RV industry with flexible inventory financing products for more than 30 years. Inventory financing, also known as floorplan financing, allows dealers to stock, market and sell a wide variety of products from RV manufacturers. It provides manufacturers and their dealer customers with a robust array of performance statistics, which are available via CDF’s proprietary online business intelligence tools.
More than half (54.7%) of marine industry participants expect sales to increase 5% to 10% this year, according to survey results released today (Feb. 28) by GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF). That’s up from the 43% who expected growth in that range last year.
That sentiment tracks closely with CDF’s forecast of 8% growth for the U.S. marine industry in 2014.
“Our theme for our annual industry conference this year is ‘Riding a Wave of Optimism’ and that really reflects our outlook,” said Bruce Van Wagoner, president of CDF’s marine group, a leading provider of financing to marine dealers. “We see a stronger industry that’s poised for growth.”
This comes in spite of lingering worries about consumer demand, which is the top concern of 64.6% of survey respondents, up from 42% in 2013. The second-greatest concern was product affordability at 12.5%.
“Although consumer sentiment is still mixed, consumption rose for 16 consecutive quarters,” noted Rob Podorefsky, managing director of GE Capital’s Interest Rate Management Group. “The labor market is slowly improving, which could create some more opportunity, and inflation is subdued right now. Steadier gasoline prices should help the U.S. economy — and the marine industry — too.”
The industry has a positive outlook when it comes to product availability, according to 37.1% of survey respondents. It’s excited about new model and product introductions, according to 34.7% of respondents, and more “base” or lower-cost models, according to 31.6%.
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The popularity of recreational vehicles grew significantly in 2013, leading RV dealers to look hopefully toward the new year, according to survey results released by GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) business.
According to a press releas, one-third of survey respondents said they expect sales to rise 10% to 15% next year, and an additional 37% expect RV sales to grow 5% to 10%. No respondents expect declining sales in 2014.
“The overall mood of the industry is upbeat,” said Tim Hyland, president of CDF’s RV group. “Industry shipments are up nearly 13% this year and retail registrations are keeping pace. Sales of towable units have nearly recovered to pre-crisis levels and motorized units are improving nicely. CDF’s increase in wholesale financing volume year-over-year is consistent with these trends as well.”
Respondents predicted that consumers will continue to favor travel trailers (50%), followed by motorhomes (31%) and fifth-wheel trailers (17%). This shows more variety in demand from last year, when travel trailers were predicted by 70% to be consumers’ first choice.
“Sales of motorized units continue to grow as the economy improves,” said Hyland. “This is very encouraging for the industry as consumers are investing in units with higher price points and re-committing to the RV lifestyle.”
The most common business concern in the RV industry is consumer demand, cited by 27% of respondents. The next concern is the availability/stability of retail finance options, selected by 19%.
The RV industry survey of 130 respondents was conducted Dec. 3-5 during the annual Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. Two-thirds of the respondents were dealers and 26% were manufacturers.
General Electric Co. is preparing to spin off one of its most important financial assets — the unit that issues store credit cards for 55 million Americans — as it retreats from one of the high-growth businesses that defined the modern conglomerate.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the decision to divest the business, amid concerns about the company’s exposure to banking, marks an important moment in the evolution of GE and the country’s three-decade long consumer credit boom. GE Capital expanded to the point that its portfolio of loans and other assets now would rank it as the country’s fifth-largest commercial bank.
Preliminary work to separate the business through an initial public offering is under way, according to people familiar with the matter.
GE has said the U.S. consumer-finance business earned $2.2 billion last year. The operation accounts for about $50 billion of the $274 billion in loans outstanding by GE Capital.
An IPO could come early next year, the people said. Bankers from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are working on a possible offering, one of the people said. Alternatives including smaller spinoffs or asset sales are under consideration, the people said.
A sale of the unit would be quicker and more straightforward, but a buyer for the entire operation is unlikely to emerge given its large size and the fact regulatory hurdles largely prevent major banks from doing big deals.
GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) business said it has seen positive trends in the Canadian RV, marine and motorsports industries through the first half of the year. It expects favorable conditions to continue into 2014.
According to a press release, CDF found that dealers’ inventory orders were up in all three categories. Aging of inventory has dropped in motorsports and marine, while staying flat year-over-year in RVs.
“Cool weather in May and June resulted in a late start to the already short Canadian selling season but, surprisingly, liquidations are only slightly below last year’s levels,” said Howard Shiebler, president and CEO of CDF in Canada. “Overall, the macro-economic environment has stabilized and the Canadian economy continues to respond favorably.”
As a result of its longstanding position as a leading inventory financing provider to Canadian manufacturers and distributors and their dealers, CDF periodically provides market intelligence that may help companies throughout the supply chain manage their businesses.
The RV industry’s nine percent increase in wholesale volume shows that dealers are effectively selling through any product they had remaining in inventory from 2012. It also reflects continued strong consumer demand.
So far this year, these growth figures are being driven by the Western provinces, while Ontario and Quebec remain slower markets.
“The country’s inventory aging past the one-year mark has stayed flat year-over-year but we view it as an acceptable level,” noted Shiebler. “Of course, we actively monitor the Canadian market and work collaboratively with our customers to mitigate situations where the levels become a concern.”
A 17% increase over last year’s marine industry volume is within striking distance of pre-downturn figures nationwide. There has been considerable growth year-over-year in the prairies and in the Atlantic region, although Ontario and Quebec still account for the most volume by province.
“We saw a lot of excitement at last year’s boat shows,” Shiebler noted. “Canadian marine dealers continued to fill orders from those shows into the first half of this year.”
This strong performance can be seen in inventory aging levels, as well; the national level of inventory aged one year or more has decreased to nearly 16% from just below 19% in 2012.
A 6% increase in wholesale shipments of motorsports products through the first half of 2013 was driven largely by the Atlantic region and the west, up 18% and 11% respectively. Quebec increased by 5%, while Ontario and the prairies both showed decreases of 1%.
The national level of inventory over one year old has decreased to about 12.5% from last year’s already healthy rate of 15.5%.
“We know that weather conditions can have an extraordinary impact on dealers so we’re working with those who’ve been impacted by the severe flooding in southern Alberta,” Shiebler said. “We want to do our part to foster a strong Canadian motorsports industry.”
General Electric Corp. is shuffling some of its top finance executives, according to an Associated Press report.
The company announced Wednesday (June 12) that CFO and vice chairman Keith Sherin will run GE Capital, the company’s finance division, effective July 1.
Jeff Bornstein, GE Capital’s CFO, will take over Sherin’s role as CFO of the larger corporation.
The move was prompted by the retirement of the current head of GE Capital, Mike Neal, who will stay on as vice chairman of the company until the end of the year.
Sherin, 54, has been GE’s CFO for 14 years. He will take over a division that generates enormous profits for GE. But the division faltered badly during the financial crisis. Since then, GE has been working to shrink and simplify the division.
Separated from GE, GE Capital would be among the nation’s biggest banks, with $538 billion in assets. It offers financing to customers who buy GE products, issues credit cards that retailers offer customers, and extends commercial loans.
The company says it is trying to reduce what it calls GE Capital’s “ending net investment” to a range of between $300 billion and $350 billion by the end of next year, down from $400 billion now.
Bornstein, 47, has been CFO of GE Capital since 2008 and helped steer the division to firmer ground after the financial crisis.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) announced that GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF), is a Platinum Partner of the 2013 RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, Sept. 30–Oct. 4, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
According to a press release, the convention is sponsored by RVDA, RVDA of Canada and the RV Learning Center.
“The support of GE Capital and our other partners allows RVDA and the RV Learning Center to meet dealers’ continuing education needs at this important event,” said RVDA Convention/Expo Committee Chairman John McCluskey of Florida Outdoors RV Center in Stuart. “GE has continued to stand behind its dealer business partners over the long haul and we are grateful for that unwavering support.”
GE Capital provided nearly $31 billion in financing for more than 40,000 manufacturers, dealers and distributors across North America in 2012. Programs include inventory and accounts receivable financing, asset-based lending, private label financing, collateral management and related financial products. Customers have access to exclusive online tools and analytics to manage their accounts and inventory. For more information, visit http://www.gecdf.com/.
“The RV Dealers International Convention/Expo provides great opportunity and value for dealers, which is why we are proud to be a sponsor for the 10th consecutive year,” said Tim Hyland, president of the RV Group at GE Capital. “As a lender to the RV industry for more than 30 years, we remain committed to seeing the industry thrive, and we look forward to seeing our customers at the expo.”
The conference remains affordable with an advance registration rate of $549 for members and a lower rate of $449 for additional registrants from the same dealership. RVDA also offers special registration payment plans, including an easy-pay plan of four payments and the ability to lock in early bird savings for additional employees with one paid convention registration.
Themed “Education: Your Competitive Advantage,” the convention will provide relevant learning opportunities for dealers and key members of their staff. Workshop tracks are in place for dealer/GMs, sales staff, parts and service managers, and finance and insurance professionals. New this year, Vendor Training +plus will allow registrants the opportunity for extended training during the first day and a half of the convention and it is included in the regular registration fee.
The 2013 convention will also feature an exhibit hall filled with the RV industry’s top companies offering products and services to help dealers improve profitability.
Companies interested in partnership opportunities, sponsorships, and exhibitor information can contact RVDA at (703) 591-7130, ext 103 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Electric Co. is thinking more seriously about selling off large parts of its financial business, which by itself would be the country’s fifth-largest bank and which investors want to shrink.
The Wall Street Journal reported that CEO Jeff Immelt recently told a conference that the company is examining a range of strategic options that could include an initial public offering of some parts of the business, GE Capital. And as a measure of his commitment, Immelt set a new target to cut the assets that will be held by GE Capital at the end of 2014 to less than half their size in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
“We think the timing is good to be thinking strategically,” Immelt said during an annual Electrical Products Group conference in Florida. “We think there’s a lot of techniques to do it.”
GE has been selling off real-estate businesses, insurance operations and overseas banking stakes for several years to lessen its reliance on a finance business that has accounted for about half of the company’s earnings from continuing operations.
During the financial crisis, concerns about GE Capital torpedoed GE’s stock price, cost the company its top-level, triple-A credit rating and forced it to cut its dividend.
One of the criteria of Immelt’s current pay package is to increase industrial earnings and their share of total profit. That can be achieved both by improving and growing the industrial operations as well as shrinking GE Capital’s business—a stated company goal. Immelt aims to get industrial profits up to 70% of the company’s total, up from 54% last year.
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GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF), announced its participation in this year’s North American Trailer Dealers Association (NATDA) annual trade show and convention, which will be held Sept. 6-8 in St. Louis.
“CDF has been supporting the trailer industry for more than 25 years,” David Wilson, commercial leader of CDF’s Diversified Products Group, said in a press release. “Today, we provide financing programs to nearly 80 manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada. Our long history in the industry, our dedicated experts and our world-class business intelligence tools demonstrate our commitment.”
GE Capital will be manning booth #816 at the America’s Convention Center in downtown St. Louis.
NATDA president Andrew Ackerman noted that an estimated $9 million in orders were written at the 2011 show. With nearly double last year’s number of manufacturers participating this year and more than double the number of dealers expected to attend, NATDA is projecting sales during the show will top $18 million.
“We’ve successfully developed this annual event into a buying show,” Ackerman said. “With specials being offered by almost every exhibiting company, dealers have incredible buying options. Cash discounts, freight allowances and free floorplan programs have made St. Louis the place to be in 2012. And for those who aren’t ready to buy, it’s a great way to see next year’s models.”
The show caters to all segments of the trailer industry, including utility, living quarter, horse, cargo, race car, marine, dump, flatbed, recreational vehicle and toy hauler markets. Attendance is free for all trailer dealers as well as dealers in related industries.
Dealers can register by visiting www.natdatradeshow.com.