Several RV stocks rode the shirttails of encouraging news from the Federal Reserve Board to close higher on Wall Street today (Aug. 12).
Six of the 10 publicly held stocks tracked daily by RVBUSINESS.com closed higher on Wall Street, led by Spartan Motors which rose 6.64% to close at $5.62. Drew Industries Inc., Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc., Flexsteel Industries Inc., Thor Industries Inc. Winnebago Industries Inc. and Navistar Internal Corp. also closed higher.
A more upbeat Federal Reserve is reassuring investors that they’ve been making the right bets, according to an analysis by Associated Press. Stocks bounded higher today after the central bank said the economy appears to be “leveling out” rather than simply shrinking at a slower rate.
The Fed’s more positive take on the economy compared with its assessment in June wasn’t surprising but it still bolstered hopes that the economy is in fact rebounding.
Today’s advance restarted the market’s summer rally after a pause on Monday and Tuesday. Major market indexes jumped more than 1%, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which jumped 120 points.
Investors drew reassurance from Fed policymakers’ comments. The central bank left interest rates unchanged, as expected, following a two-day policy meeting.
“They did really endorse the fact that we’re moving into recovery, not searching for the bottom,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland.
Stocks have been rallying much of the past four weeks on expectations that the economy is strengthening.
The Fed also said it would slow the pace of its program to buy $300 billion worth of Treasury securities so that it will close at the end of October, rather than September as originally intended. The central bank has bought $253 billion of the securities so far. The program is designed to reduce rates on mortgages and other consumer debt.
“The fact that they are going to wind down the Treasury purchases I think leaves the clear impression that they are quite satisfied with the progress we are making in the recovery,” McCain said.
But some analysts are skeptical that the market can maintain its climb even with the Fed’s more optimistic words. The S&P 500 index is up 14% in little more than a month and 48.7% since it fell to a 12-year low in early March.
“I looks like a pretty sharp rise to me to have a lot of sustainability,” said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 120.16, or 1.3%, to 9,361.61. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 11.46, or 1.2%, to 1,005.81, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 28.99, or 1.5%, to 1,998.72.
Rising stocks outpaced those that fell 5-to-2 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to a light 1.2 billion shares, flat with Tuesday. Light volume can skew price moves but is typical of late summer when many traders take vacations.
The gains came a day after the market posted its biggest loss in five weeks. The Dow fell 97 points as investors worried about the health of banks.
Two couples are appealing an Armstrong County, Pa., judge’s ruling that they must pay property tax on their park model trailers.
Both found the ruling unfair and argue in filings with the Commonwealth Court that their trailers are not permanent structures and can be moved from land they lease along the Allegheny River, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Judge Kenneth Valasek ruled in November that trailers owned by Keith and Valeri Lazor and Michael and Jeanne Gelormino are subject to real estate tax, upholding a decision by the county’s board of assessment appeals.
Valasek stated in his opinions that because the Lazors and Gelorminos have added porches, steps, landscaping and outdoor lighting, the trailers are more of a house than a recreational vehicle.
“There is no doubt that this model is not intended” to be moved often, Valasek wrote.
The Lazors and Gelorminos were two of four nearby trailer owners who appealed the board of assessment’s ruling to the Court of Common Pleas, Valeri Lazor said. Valasek handled the Lazors’ and Gelorminos’ cases while Judge James Panchik was assigned the hearings of Anthony Mariani and James Davidson, who have trailers not far from the couples’ on property owned by Davidson.
“All four of us agreed we would fight this,” Valeri Lazor said. “It’s wrong. They’re (recreational vehicles).”
The trailers are generally used as weekend getaways or summer vacation homes, all in Rayburn along the Allegheny River. The four trailers are registered as vehicles, the owners paid vehicle sales tax and all are winterized.
After the hearings, Valasek found that the Lazors and Gelorminos are subject to the tax. Panchik found that Mariani and Davidson are not.
That’s where unfairness comes in, Valeri Lazor said, because all four of the trailers are the same.
“It’s the principle of the matter – not about the money,” she said. “It’s wrong that they won and we lost.”
Keith Lazor said it would take a couple hours for him to ready the trailer, “and then I’d have it gone.”
The Lazors are contemplating packing up their trailer and leaving if the Commonwealth Court doesn’t rule in their favor.
Valeri Lazor said she and her husband had their trailer at its current spot for about a year when they were informed it was being taxed.
Her brother Michael Gelormino said “I wasn’t there 24 hours” when he learned that his trailer was subject to real estate tax.
He couldn’t believe that after paying vehicle taxes on the trailer that he’d have to pay real estate taxes for property he doesn’t own, he said. Gelormino finds the tax unfair because it doesn’t apply to every park model trailer in the area.
“They’re the same kind of camper as ours,” he said. “It’d be different if I owned this property.”
The Gelorminos have to be on watch constantly because the river might rise and their trailer could be damaged, Michael Gelormino said. It would take a couple hours to get the trailer ready to be moved, he said.
“It is still susceptible to flooding down here,” he said. “I’m not in a flood-free zone.”
The trailer is covered by the Gelorminos’ vehicle insurance, he said.
“This has a license plate,” said Jeanne Gelormino.
The Lazors’ and Gelorminos’ trailers sit on blocks, the wheels are attached and there is no permanent foundation, they said. Porch roofs can be removed and utilities disconnected to move the trailer, both couples said.
“You can’t live in this thing all year-round,” Michael Gelormino said.
If the Gelorminos lose the appeal, “they’ll see how mobile this is,” he said.
In ruling that Mariani and Davidson are not subject to the tax, Panchik wrote in a December opinion that analysis must “be on a case-by-case basis.”
He found that neither trailer was permanently attached to the land and the owners have no intent to do so.
“To find to the contrary would necessarily then make taxable every mobile home unit that hooks up at an overnight park,” Panchik wrote.
The Lazors and Gelorminos said the tax goes against making the county accessible for recreational opportunities.
“We bring to this town,” Jeanne Gelormino said, by buying things at local stores during their stays.
Valeri Lazor expects their cases to be heard in mid-October when the Commonwealth Court convenes in Pittsburgh.
Editor’s Note: This analysis was prepared by the tickerspy.com staff and was published Monday (July 27). Tickerspy is a free investing website where you can track multiple stock portfolios and compare against 250 proprietary indexes tracking themes from nanotech to agriculture to precious metals.
The automotive sector remains a laggard, but less practical modes of transportation are booming.
At some points during the recession, recreational vehicle stocks underperformed automotive stocks. At the time it seemed logical — people need cars, and therefore will find a way to buy them, perhaps at the expense of less practical luxury vehicles. Now that the economy is on the rebound, however, recreational vehicle stocks are outperforming by a long shot. Just what is driving these high-power, high-priced alternative modes of transportation?
Winnebago Industries Inc. unveiled its 2010 lineup last week, and the stock has since rallied by 20%. President, CEO, and chairman Bob Olson remarked, “Our 2010 model lineup is without a doubt the best we’ve ever offered.” He continued to note that the response from company dealers was “overwhelmingly positive.” As of October 2008, the company’s suggested retail prices for new motorhomes ranged from approximately $61,000 to $306,000. As of August 2008, nearly 50% of annual units sold were larger models, built directly on medium- and heavy-duty truck chassis.
Thor Industries Inc. is the Recreational Vehicle Index’s most popular component among professional investors. At the beginning of Q2 four Pros counted the stock among their top-15 U.S. listed equity holdings. The stock is a laggard over the last month, up 8%.
As of this writing, the Recreational Vehicle Stocks Index is among the top-10 performing tickerspy Indexes over the last month.
Marine Products will be reporting earnings tomorrow, (July 28). Investors have bid up shares by 24% in anticipation in just the last week. The company specializes in the manufacture and sales of powerboats, catering to everyone from recreational fishermen to high-rolling sport yacht buyers.
Harley Davidson is up by over 30% over the last month. Like Winnebago, the company also recently rolled out its line of 2010 vehicles. Nine new Harleys were introduced, the most expansive in company history. Earlier this month, the company announced a -30% decline in second-quarter sales, and a massive -91% drop in profits.
All-terrain-vehicle (ATV) players Arctic Cat and Polaris Industries are also having a strong month. Polaris announced a -28% drop in Q2 profit earlier this month on a -25% decline in sales. CEO Scott W. Wine said the company gained market share in the off-road vehicle sector. Investors will see how that affects Arctic Cat’s bottom line when it reports second-quarter numbers.
Meanwhile, popular traditional automakers Toyota and Honda are ahead by less than 5% in the last month. Ford is up by 26% in the period.
Patrick Industries Inc., an Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer and distributor of building and component products for the recreational vehicle, manufactured housing and industrial markets, announced Monday (July 27) that it has completed the sale of certain assets of its aluminum extrusion operation located in Mishawaka, Ind., to Patrick Aluminum Inc., a member of the UMC family of companies.
Net proceeds from the sale were $7.4 million and are subject to final transaction costs and certain closing adjustments. Approximately $4.4 million of the net proceeds were used to pay down principal on the company’s term loan and pay off its economic development revenue bonds related to this facility. The remaining funds were used to reduce borrowings on the company’s revolving line of credit.
El Monte RV, one of America’s largest RV rental companies, has created a comprehensive information website portal for travelers planning to visit U.S. national parks by RV.
This approach allows anyone from around the world arranging a trip to U.S. national parks, forests or federal recreation areas to find complete information on campsites, fees and area attractions quickly, according to a news release. A single page on the El Monte RV Rental site links to National Parks Service (NPS) web pages for every state.
In addition, the Los Angeles-based recreational vehicle rental firm provides information on the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, an annual pass available through the NPS that allows non-commercial vehicles access to sites normally charging a per-person fee.
By combining information on recreational vehicles available for rent with a comprehensive guide to U.S. National Parks, El Monte RV facilitates streamlined travel planning. With more than 60 RV rental locations, the firm hopes to encourage RV rental travel planning by making national parks tourism a more attractive option
Alpine RV in Morgan Hill, Calif., is the latest victim of credit market and general economic woes that have led to a string of auto dealership closures in this area south of San Francisco, according to the Gilroy Dispatch.
The recreational vehicle dealership that has been in business on Condit Road since 2006 closed its doors July 8. About $10 million in new and used inventory was cleared from the dealer’s lot and will likely be sold to other dealers, according to Alpine RV owner Michael Jacque.
“The economy has been a challenge,” Jacque said. He specifically pointed to the bank’s “unreasonable” tightening of credit and financing requirements since October that made it difficult for him to continue replenishing his stock of new vehicles.
“Our bank is now exiting the RV business and they’re no longer forthcoming” with financing for more floor models, said Jacque, who has been an RV dealer for nearly 30 years.
Jacque was at the former Alpine RV site Monday afternoon (July 20) cleaning out the dealership’s offices.
He hopes the 35 employees of Alpine RV will find new jobs with another RV dealer that might take over at the same location. One such company is Pan Pacific RV Centers Inc., which is based in the Sacramento area.
“We are contemplating coming to the (Morgan Hill) marketplace,” Pan Pacific President Jim Shields said. The most likely location for a dealership would be the former site of Alpine RV as the necessary infrastructure is already in place. But he noted that Pan Pacific is “at the mercy of the bank,” and if the company is able to acquire the RV shop it would not be able to open it for at least another 60 days.
Sales have declined steadily and significantly at Alpine RV since its peak in 2007. That year, the dealer made about $56 million in sales of new and used RVs. In 2008, sales dropped to about $38 million, and this year it was on pace to make about $18 million in sales, Jacque said.
That echoes nationwide trends. In the first four months of 2009, RV manufacturers shipped 43,700 RVs to dealers – a decline of 61.7% in the same time period last year, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). In 2008, about 237,000 RVs were shipped to dealers – about 33% less than were shipped in 2007.
Sales of smaller RVs, particularly towable models, were still strong at Alpine RV when it closed, Jacque noted.
“It was just difficult to ride out the storm” that began in early 2008, Jacque said.
The city of Morgan Hill has suffered from the lagging sales of RVs, and automobiles in general. Sales tax revenues from transportation-related sales — which include sales of new and used cars, RVs, motorcycles and driving fuel — have taken a “nose-dive” the last two years, according to City Manager Ed Tewes.
At their peak in the middle of 2007, sales tax revenues in the transportation category topped out at $2.4 million. In the first quarter of 2009, the most recent date for which information is available, those revenues totaled about $1.6 million.
Transportation sales tax revenues typically account for a third of all of the city’s sales tax proceeds. “We are very dependent on that sector,” Tewes said.
The city was dealt a substantial blow to its transportation sales tax revenues when Courtesy Chevrolet closed in April. Furthermore, down the road in Gilroy, the Pontiac Buick and Ford Lincoln Mercury stores closed in mid-February.
Although Tewes said he cannot legally disclose how much sales tax revenue an individual business generates, he said Alpine RV has “consistently” been one of the city’s top 10 sales tax producers.
And the city had an “economic incentive agreement” with Alpine to refund a portion of the sales tax it generated if it met certain overall sales minimums each year, according to city Business and Housing Services Director Garrett Toy. The city receives 1% of all sales taxes generated by businesses in the city limits.
Under the agreement with Alpine, the dealership received a rebate from the city for almost $56,000 earlier this year, and it agreed to make property improvements on its Condit Road frontage. Those improvements included the installation of a wrought-iron fence and decorative landscaping in front of the lot, Jacque said.
The city had a similar agreement with the previous occupant of the same lot, the Dan Gamel RV Center. They also have an existing similar agreement with the Ford Store of Morgan Hill, which so far has given an estimated $155,000 tax break to the auto retailer.
To recognize its promotion of a voluntary carbon offset program, El Monte RV will be a featured AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah (AAA NCNU) Greenlight partner during the Auto Club’s annual Alternative Fuels Awareness Month in November.
The month-long initiative highlights the efforts of AAA Show Your Card & Save (SYCS) partners to promote alternative fuels and environmentally sound fuel consumption practices to their clients, according to a news release.
El Monte RV offers RV rental customers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets. A carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions, a principal cause of global warming. El Monte RV works with TerraPass to purchase these carbon offsets. The reduction occurs as TerraPass uses the proceeds of carbon offset sales to fund carbon emissions reduction projects such as wind farms, methane gas reduction and others.
El Monte RV leads the industry in promoting “green” RV rental practices and is the first recreational vehicle rental firm to promote a carbon offset program. For more information on El Monte RV Rental’s green rv rental initiatives visit the El Monte RV Green RV’ing guide.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, El Monte RV is one of America’s leading motorhome and RV rental and sales companies, catering to both international and domestic travelers. The company has experienced rapid growth throughout the United States and is the only nationwide motorhome rental company to offer the larger Class A luxury vehicles for rent.
When Brian Brawdy goes camping in his recreational vehicle, he doesn’t have to search for an electrical outlet.
He hauls his own power with him.
Brawdy, a self-described adventurer and explorer, travels the United States in a “green” truck camper – a unit that he developed as a showcase for what humans can do to protect the outdoors, according to the Kansas City Star.
Looking for a way to harness the energy that nature provides, he went to work to fabricate an environmentally friendly RV.
Much sweat, many hours and many dollars later, he came up with a futuristic vehicle that features solar panels, a wind turbine, rain gutters and a water-filtration system, and biodiesel fuel.
The energy that he stores in four 100-amp batteries is enough to power an air conditioner, microwave, refrigerator and television – without hurting the environment.
“This is my mobile base camp,” he said while leaning on his green RV at the recent Outdoor Writers Association of America national conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. “With this, I can camp anywhere.
“To me, it’s a vision of the future. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an astronaut and build my own spaceship.
“This is my spaceship.”
Brawdy started by purchasing a Ford F-350 topped with a Lance camper. Then he went to work to turn them “green.”
His adventure began in 2007, when he was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer. Doctors were able to remove tumors on his lip, but he was unable to speak for a month.
As he recovered, Brawdy did some soul-searching.
“It was a very humbling experience,” he said. “I got to thinking: I am 48 and my gig is half over.
“This was a wake-up call. It was time to go for the things I really wanted to do.
“I had loved the outdoors, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to take adventure to a new level.”
Brawdy, a former police officer in upstate New York and television reporter in Chicago, found that niche in his RV.
He went on an extended road trip, living fulltime in his RV and traveling the country. He hit every one of the lower 48 states, covering more than 60,000 miles.
During his “Conservation Through Exploration” tour, he endured everything from 140-degree heat in Death Valley to camping next to alligators in the Florida Everglades.
“I slept 320 nights in my camper last year,” he said. “This is my home, my new address.
“It’s my mobile base camp. I have gone mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, backpacking and mountain biking in places I never thought I would be camping.”
Brawdy had developed a passion for the outdoors more than 20 years ago after his dad committed suicide. That experience was hard on Brawdy, but he found peace in the outdoors, off by himself.
Many years later, he drew on that passion when he developed his green RV. He admits that coming up with such a unit wasn’t cheap: He estimates that he put $140,000 into it.
Still, he considers the RV a bargain. He points out that he saves on the cost of campground fees. And he has no utility bills in this home.
“I think there could be a future in this,” he said. “Companies like Lance have shown an interest in manufacturing a green RV.
“For me, this was a way of proving that we can enjoy the outdoors without depending on an outside source. I am concerned about the environment and what we’re doing to it.
“I wanted to do more than just recycle old newspapers. I wanted to do something different.
“We have the sun, the wind, the rain. Why not put it to good use?”
Ron Haynes’ 35-foot recreational vehicle has all the conveniences of home, including a roomy bathroom, recliners, satellite television and the same brand and style of mattress he sleeps on in his Pella, Iowa, home.
“So I sleep well,” says Haynes, an avid camper – ummm, RVer. Haynes, 52, and his wife, Carol, 54, take their Winnebago Chieftain on four trips a year. And most of the summer, the home on wheels is parked at Cutty’s Campgrounds near Grimes, Iowa, where the Hayneses spend weekends. “We love the comfort and freedom of the RV,” Haynes says.
Baby Boomers such as the Hayneses make up the largest number of RV owners, according to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). The typical RV owner is 49 years old, married, with annual household income of $68,000. On average, owners spend 26 days a year traveling in their RVs, covering about 4,500 miles.
Camping, even locally, is a chance to get away from the daily grind, if only for a weekend, says Nocona Mollendor, assistant business manager at Cutty’s. The RVs she sees at the campgrounds have become more elaborate over the years, now including washers and dryers, fireplaces, expensive countertops, built-in computer stations and more, she says. “Those are their second homes,” she says.
Many of the Cutty’s visitors park their RVs there all season, some year-round. Some take side trips with their motor homes, others never move them, she says. Haynes, who is semi-retired from the Culligan water systems dealership he owns in Pella, takes yearly treks to Door County in Wisconsin and to Florida, Arkansas and other locales.
The trips are easier because of the RV, he says. “You are taking your home with you,” he says. “When we visit relatives, we don’t intrude on them. With the RV, we have our own beds and shower.”
The family cat nestles onto the dashboard for long trips, and there is never a worry about hotel reservations or crowded restaurants, he says. His grandmother was able to join the couple recently on a trip to Florida because in the RV she could plug in her oxygen machine. And the couple bring along their Wii Fit program so they can get do their daily aerobic exercise while on the road, Haynes says. “We make sure the curtains are down,” he says. “It keeps us on track.”
Like many RV owners, the Hayneses started their camping career in tents about 15 years ago. From there, they moved to a pop-up trailer. “As our finances got better, we went to a motorhome,” Ron Haynes says. Three years ago, they “traded up” to the Winnebago Chieftain, which has two slide-outs, a spacious living room, bedroom and bathroom, a roomy refrigerator and two air conditioners. Haynes already is crafting his wish list for the next RV.
“The next one will be a little bigger, run on diesel fuel and have a washer and dryer,” he says. He also would like a one-touch system for retracting the awnings, a built-in wind meter for the roof and a desk area for a laptop. “I might as well get it the way I want it,” he says.
Touring the United States in comfort appeals to Baby Boomers, says Mark Polk, owner of RV Education 101, which publishes books and videos on owning and operating RVs. The sour economy is taking a bite out of large motorhome sales, he says. As the economy recovers from recession, a new generation of RVs will emerge, he predicts. “They won’t do away with amenities, but they will scale down in size,” he says.
“They will be more fuel-efficient and be smaller and lighter, like the European version.”
Linda Schinckel and her husband, David, of Grinnell take their large Holiday Admiral motorhome on jaunts to the Iowa Speedway in Newton on race weekends or to campgrounds with trails, where they can ride their horses. “It’s like having our home with us wherever we go,” says Schinckel, 56. “We love to sit outside our RV with our coffee and watch the sun come up.”
The couple pull a horse trailer or a smaller one toting their Harley motorcycles.
“We just throw in our clothes and go,” Schinckel says. Their retirement plan will include a bigger RV and more travel, she says.
“It’s on our bucket list.”
Tour de France cyclists face a difficult task riding for three weeks. But negotiating the race route across vast countryside, ominous mountains and often in several countries is not easy in any transportation mode.
Several hundred vehicles follow the race every day, and arguably the most difficult driving responsibility must be transporting cyclists in their motorhomes to the start of each stage. Each team has at least one large coach, while some teams prefer two smaller recreational vehicles. Some of the highest-budget teams have three or four RVs in varying sizes, according to examiner.com.
The RVs are all top-of-the-line, detailed to meet the cyclists’ needs and used in different races throughout the world at a team’s discretion. The vehicles always also serve as ideal rolling promotional billboards for teams’ sponsors. All of the motorhomes feature elaborate custom paint showcasing the same products and services riders promote on their cycling attire.
Drivers of the motorhomes on a daily basis negotiate major French motorways, country roads and tight, narrow finishing areas where massive crowds line the course.
But just like the cyclists, the most difficult task facing team motorhome drivers in the Tour de France is when the race advances onto the steep climbs and harrowing descents of the Alps and Pyrenees mountains.
It may not require great aerobic skill, but how the recreational vehicle drivers negotiate the winding, narrow road is as impressive as the cyclists’ efforts.