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RV Industry Shows Slight Improvement for 2011

November 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

RVIA President Richard Coon

The RV industry pointed Tuesday (Nov. 29) to a slight improvement from last year’s turnaround performance as another sign the recession-dented sector is on the road to recovery. But, according to an Associated Press report, a slight speed bump might be on the horizon.

RV makers, dealers and suppliers attending the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., were told that 2011 shipments from manufacturers to dealers are expected to be up 2% from last year’s 242,300 shipped units. The 2010 total amounted to a 46% gain from 2009.

“You guys sitting in this room today are all survivors in this industry, and I think that bodes very well,” said Richard A. Coon, president of the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which annually hosts the trade-only show.

Despite the upswing, the recreational vehicle industry still has considerable ground to cover to catch up with pre-recessionary levels.

In 2007, shipments totaled 353,400 — the fourth-highest figure in the past quarter century. By 2009, shipments slumped to 165,700 units as older RVs parked on dealers’ lots drew scant interest from cash-conscious consumers.

Consumers remain jittery by stubbornly high unemployment, sagging home values and a volatile stock market. As a result, the industry is bracing for a projected 2.6% decline in RV shipments in 2012, based on a forecast by University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin.

“It plays with the psyche of those people that are in our target market,” said Bob Olson, chairman of RV maker Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City, Iowa, and co-chairman of the industry’s Go RVing Coalition.

Despite lackluster consumer confidence, Olson said there have been favorable trends — dealer inventories have improved and consumer credit has become more available, especially for less-expensive towable RVs attached to pickups or hitched to the back of another vehicle.

“A lot of tough decisions were made by everybody in that room in order to be here today,” Olson said following the trade show’s Outlook Breakfast. “You didn’t find anybody in the RV industry getting a bailout. We did it the old-fashioned way, with some pretty tough decisions.”

Since 2008, the number of RV manufacturers has dropped by 35%, Coon said. The ranks of suppliers fell by 32%. Everyone had to make adjustments to survive the nation’s worst recession since the Great Depression.

Tom Stinnett, an RV dealer in nearby southern Indiana and co-chairman of the Go RVing Coalition, said he reshuffled his inventory to focus mostly on towables. Before the recession, his lot was divided between towables and more costly stand-alone motorhomes.

Towables cost between $6,000 and $100,000, according to RVIA. Stand-alone motor homes range from $50,000 to as much as $400,000 for top-of-the-line, bus-like vehicles.

Stinnett said his business is profitable again after several “brutal years of downsizing and reorganizing.”

“We have nowhere to go but up,” he said. “Three years ago, we were very, very worried about making it through this disastrous time.”

AP reported that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also gave a pep talk to the industry.

“Your best days are still ahead,” he said before briefly touring a sprawling convention hall filled with the industry’s newest models.

Salazar said investments in conservation and outdoor recreation would help fuel job growth. He cited a study showing more than 8.4 million U.S. jobs are created every year thanks to outdoor recreation.

In 2010, RV travelers spent nearly 2.3 million nights at national parks, up 10% from 2008, he said.

“RV owners are often great champions for conservation as they know firsthand that the investments we make in our parks, historic sites and other public lands not only allow people to enjoy these incredible places, but they also help grow local economies across the country,” Salazar said.

Employment is also on the rebound in the industry.

RV manufacturers and suppliers now employ about 375,000 people, up about 50% since November 2008, according to RVIA. But the overall work force is still down from the more than 500,000 workers before the recession.

 

 

 

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Baird: Sept. Shipments Flat, Q3 Sees Declines

October 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter to investors following the towable sales report for August by Statistical Surveys Inc. The following offers a summary of the results.

Wholesale RV shipments were mixed in September. Total RV shipments were relatively flat on weak motorhome results (-21%) and modest growth in towables (+4%). Facing an uncertain economy and weaker consumer confidence, consumers seem less likely to buy and dealers are less likely to stock – leading to slower RV orders in the back half of 2011.

Total September RV shipments flat: Overall trends have deteriorated significantly, with wholesale down 4% in calendar Q3 following 8% growth seen in the first half of 2011. Following seasonal restocking in the first half, retail failed to recover and dealers have slowed orders. Recall that dealers reduced inventory during the last cycle, limiting destocking pressure if retail lags.

Towable shipments up 4%: Travel trailer shipments improved 6% in September, while fifth-wheel shipments fell 2%. For perspective, we model Thor towable shipments down 7% (excluding Heartland).

Motorhome shipments down 21%: Class A shipments fell 17% in September, while Class C shipments dropped 29%. For perspective, we model Winnebago shipments down 3% in the November quarter – but it is early and percentage swings are more volatile during the off season.

SAAR: We calculate a seasonally adjusted annual rate of shipments. The SAAR of motorhome shipments decreased to 17.2K units in September, from 20.4K units in August (23.6K units were shipped in 2010). The SAAR of towable shipments fell to 177K units in September, from 205K units in August (199K units were shipped in 2010).

This summary of a Baird research report is not intended as investment advice. To participate in Baird surveys and receive research reports, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at ckennison@rwbaird.com.

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September Shipments Flat, Motorhomes Down

October 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Wholesale shipments of all RVs were reported at 17,000 units in the September survey of manufacturers, representing a 1.8% increase compared with September 2010 and a 19% decline from August 2011. On a seasonally adjusted basis, shipments in September were at an annualized rate of 224,000 units. A total of 200,000 units have been shipped to RV retailers so far this year, an improvement of nearly 3.1% compared to this same period last year. Both towable RVs and motorhomes reported small improvements compared to the first nine months of 2010.

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Year-Over-Year May Shipments Jump 13.1%

June 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported that wholesale shipments to retailers of all RVs were reported at 27,600 units May, up 12.2% over last month and up 13.1% over this same month last year.

Towable RVs provided the improvements while motorhomes held even with year-ago totals. Seasonally adjusted, May’s total represented an annualized rate of nearly 285,000 units, a 17% increase over last month and the highest rate so far this year.

Through May, total RV shipments for 2011 reached 117,300 units, up 7.7% compared to this same period last year.

See chart below for May totals in each category.

May2011Shipments

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Baird: Shipments to Track ’11 Retail Demand

March 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Baird logoEditor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter following the release of the February wholesale shipments report by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Excerpts from the Baird newsletter follow.

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February shipments up 1%. Total RV shipments increased 1% in February, as motorhome shipments increased 6%, while towable shipments were flat. Growth decelerated versus recent months; however, this was expected. Dealer inventory is in good shape and we expect shipments growth to closely track retail demand.

Summary

Total RV shipments show slight growth in February. Overall shipments grew 1% in February following 15% growth last month. The deceleration was expected given difficult comps and healthy dealer inventory levels. Dealers have built normal seasonal inventory ahead of the busy spring selling months and for the remainder of the year we expect wholesale shipments to track in line with retail demand.

Motorhome shipments increased 6%. Class A shipments increased 10%, while Class C shipments were flat. We expect modest motorhome shipment growth into spring against difficult comps, with possible upside from better retail.

Towable shipments flat. Travel trailer shipments declined 2%, while fifth-wheel shipments grew 4%. Year-to-date towable shipments are up 6%.

SAAR. We calculate a seasonally adjusted annual rate of shipments. The SAAR of motorhome shipments fell modestly to 24.1K units in February, from 24.7K units in January — 23.6K units were shipped in 2010. The SAAR of towable shipments increased to 207.5K units in February, from 194.4K units in January — 199.2K units were shipped in 2010.

This summary of a Baird research report is not intended as investment advice. To participate in Baird surveys and receive research reports, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at ckennison@rwbaird.com.

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Baird: Retail Results Should Drive Shipments

March 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Baird logo Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter following release by the Recreation Vehicle  Industry Association (RVIA) of the January wholesale shipments report. Excerpts from the Baird  newsletter follow.

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January shipments up 15%. Total RV shipments increased 15% in January, as motorhome shipments increased 36%, while towable shipments grew 13%. The shipment gains follow strong December results as dealers continue to replenish inventory ahead of the spring season. Additionally, RVIA recently released its updated shipment forecast, calling for RV wholesale growth of 9% (above the previous 4% growth forecast).

Summary

Total RV shipments continue improvement in January. Overall shipments grew 15% in January, the second consecutive month of strong wholesale growth following flat-to-down shipments in the back half of 2010. Shipment growth decelerated through late summer and into fall as retail slowed and dealers managed inventory levels into the slower winter season. Comps remain difficult, but strong wholesale results indicate dealers are replenishing inventory ahead of the spring selling season which begins this March/April. With dealer inventories back at healthy levels, retail results should drive shipments going forward, as dealers restock inventory on a 1:1 basis.

Motorhome shipments increased 36%. Class A shipments increased 22% while Class C shipments increased 60%. We expect modest motorhome shipment growth into spring against difficult comps, with possible upside from better retail.

Towable shipments up 13%. Travel trailer shipments increased 10% and fifth-wheel shipments increased 23%. We believe dealers are more optimistic heading into 2011, and are able to restock new units following a right-sizing of inventory levels in 2010.

SAAR. We calculate a seasonally adjusted annual rate of shipments. The SAAR of motorhome shipments increased modestly to 24.7K units in January, from 24.0K units in December — 23.6K units were shipped in 2010. The SAAR of towable shipments fell to 194.4K units in January, from a particularly strong 229.7K units in December — 199.2K units were shipped in 2010.

Impact on WGO and THO. Thor already has reported results through January. Meanwhile, RVIA shipment data are available for the first two months of the Winnebago quarter ended February. Over that period industry motorhome shipments are up 28% versus our estimate for down 11% at Winnebago. It is the offseason, but it implies potential for upside.

This summary of a Baird research report is not intended as investment advice. To participate in Baird surveys and receive research reports, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at ckennison@rwbaird.com.

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Industry Buoyed by Strong Late Year Results

January 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Gregg Fore

Gregg Fore

RV industry leaders were buoyed by a late year wholesale shipment surge — a strong December that pushed 2010 North American shipments to 242,300 units — a 45.6% gain over 2009.

The late-year shipment gains were led once again by travel trailers and fifth-wheels, which were up 23.8% and 24.2%, respectively, for the month of December and 42.4% and 48.6% for the year.

Total December shipments of 18,300 units, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), were 30.7% higher than the same month last year.

“If we go back to early 2010, could anybody have predicted that kind of growth?” asks Jayco Inc. President Derald Bontrager. “I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I think it caught a lot of people by surprise, and I think it’s an indication of how mainstream the RV lifestyle’s become in America. You know, it’s a desired lifestyle, and there’s a lot of pent up demand out there.”

The greatest strength in terms of towable sales for Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco, says Bontrager, is in the entry level towables– certainly more so than before the recession. “Oh yes,” he added, “we’ve seen a shift in volumes toward entry level products. We can thank the recession for that. I think that it’s caused everybody to rethink their priorities in terms of how they spend their hard earned dollars.”

RVIA Vice President of Administration Robert “Mac” Bryan had expected a strong showing for 2010. ”I had anticipated a good month of December would be 15,000 (units shipped),” said Bryan. “But 18,000 was quite a surprise to me — obviously a pleasant surprise.”

“If it tells us anything,” asserts Gregg Fore, president of Elkhart, Ind.-based Dicor Corp. and current chairman of RVIA, “it tells us that inventory balance is pretty good in the market between dealers and retail and that the attitude we saw at the (Louisville) show in December from dealers has played out – that they’re a pretty positive bunch going into the spring shows based on their actions at Louisville. And that’s playing out in January.

“That balance has created an environment where wholesale financing is more efficient,” noted Fore, adding that the year-end results exceeded his own projections. “That’s what balance creates for you. It also tells us the volume level in the 240,000 (unit) range is pretty sustainable. That’s probably the most important thing it tells us.”

Also expecting good news in the year-end shipment reports was RV builder Keystone RV Co. Inc., a Goshen, Ind., Thor division for which 2010 production – without revealing actual numbers – clearly outpaced 2009’s and employment has rebounded to pre-recessionary levels of about 3,000 workers.

Bob Martin

Bob Martin

”We were thrilled to see (the shipment numbers),” noted Keystone President Bob Martin. ”It was great to see the industry numbers going up. It’s always interesting to gauge how the rest of the industry is doing.”

Based on his own company’s retail activity, Ed Kinney, vice president of sales and marketing for Carriage Inc., Millersburg, Ind., expected the positive year-end numbers. “Absolutely,” said Kinney. “I think that things are in place for the industry to really turn around, and this year’s going to be great.”

Towable strength is something Carriage has been consistently seeing. “Yeah, we’ve seen it a lot the last six months of the year,” added Kinney. “So, towable sales are strong. Our business in the emerging luxury fifth-wheel market is extremely strong. We’re seeing things pick up significantly in the shows we’re in right now.”

Meanwhile, Tom Walworth, president of Statistical Surveys Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., which tracks North American retail sales, suggests that shipments to Canadian dealers played a significant role in December’s positive returns.

“My guess is with the devaluation of the dollar, Canadians are probably snapping up RVs more than they normally would because it’s a better buy,” Walworth said. ”The Canadian numbers exerted a bigger influence than (Richard) Curtin’s original model projected.”

At the same time, Jeff Babcock, national sales manager for Forest River Inc., sees a direct correlation between the late year surge and the emerging strength of National Open House Week, held for the last three years by various Elkhart-area RV builders. He claims the open house has turbocharged the fall stocking programs that already existed.

“It just goes to show that these fall open houses have made an impact on shipments in December. I mean, shipments are up 5,000 units and I would say that a lot of that is attributable to the dealer shows that we did in September and the units that got built as a result in October and November and shipped in December at the year end.

“That just goes to show that dealers think that the best time for an RV show is better than Louisville, where you can’t get the new product to the shows in time,” said Babcock, whose company has played a pivotal role in introducing National Open House Week. “September’s a much better time to have a dealer show, and I think you’re going to see those numbers increase.”

The year-end results in a nutshell for December and the year:

  • Class A motorhomes: 1,100 (up 22.2%), 13,100 (up 122%).
  • Class B motorhomes: 100 (even); 1,600 (down 15.8%).
  • Class C motorhomes: 700 (up 16.7%), 10,500 (up 72.1%).
  • Travel trailers: 10,400 units (up 23.8%), 144,500 (up 42.4%).
  • Fifth-wheels: 4,100 (up 24.2%), 54,700 (up 48.6%).
  • Folding camping trailers: 1,600 (up 166.7%), 15,000 (up 22%).
  • Truck campers: 300 (up 200%), 2,900 (up 52.6%).
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Baird: Healthier Levels for Dealer Inventories

January 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Baird logo Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter following this week’s release of the year-end  wholesale RV shipments. Excerpts from the Baird newsletter follow.

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Strong December shipments close out solid 2010. Total RV shipments increased 24% in December (+48% in 2010), as motorhome shipments increased 20% (+97% in 2010), while towable shipments grew 24% (+44% in 2010). Shipments had slowed recently, but improved in December as dealers replenish inventory ahead of the spring season. Heading into 2011, the most recent RVIA forecast calls for RV wholesale growth of 4%.

Summary

Total RV shipment trends improve in December. Overall shipments grew 24% in December (+48% in 2010), above flat-to-down wholesale growth in recent months. Shipment growth decelerated through late summer and into fall as retail slowed and dealers managed inventory levels into the slower winter season. Comps remain difficult, but strong wholesale results indicate dealers are replenishing inventory ahead of the spring selling season which begins this March/April. With dealer inventories back at healthy levels, retail results should drive shipments going forward, as dealers restock inventory on a 1:1 basis.

Motorhome shipments increased 20% (+97% in 2010). Class A shipments increased 22% while Class C shipments increased 17%. We expect motorhome shipment growth remain modest against difficult comps, with possible upside from better retail results.

Towable shipments up 24% (+44% in 2010). Travel trailer shipments increased 24% and fifth wheel shipments also increased 24%. Strong towable results follow three consecutive months of towable shipment declines, despite difficult comps. We believe dealers are more optimistic heading into 2011, and are able to restock new units following a right-sizing of inventory levels in 2010.

SAAR. We calculate a seasonally adjusted annual rate of shipments. The SAAR of motorhome shipments increased modestly to 24.0K units in December, from 23.0K units in November — 23.6K units were shipped in 2010. The SAAR of towable shipments increased dramatically to 229.7K units in December, from 172.7K units in November — 199.2K units were shipped in 2010.

This summary of a Baird research report is not intended as investment advice. To participate in Baird surveys and receive research reports, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at ckennison@rwbaird.com.

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2010 Shipments Exceed Curtin Forecast by 2%

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Richard Curtin, the University of Michigan economist who issues wholesale shipment forecasts quarterly under contract with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), does better than most weather forecasters when it comes to accurately predicting what’s going to happen in his chosen field.

He’s usually right on or very close with his predictions.

That was the case this week when the RVIA released its year-end shipment totals for towable and motorized RVs. The actual shipment total was 242,300 units.

Curtin’s final forecast, issued in December, was 236,700.

That’s a difference of 5,600 units, or about a 2.3% deviation from Curtin’s forecast.

As for 2011, Curtin projected in December a total of 246,000 shipments this year, which would be a 4% increase over his 2010 forecast. But with the final  tally coming in higher than expected, his 2011 forecast is now just about 1.5% over 2010 actual.

Increases are expected for every type of RV in 2011, with seasonally adjusted shipments slowly rising from the start to the end of 2011. Importantly, the gains in the year ahead will be mainly due to improvements in retail sales rather than the restocking needs of the dealer networks.

Curtin’s next forecast is due in the spring.

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RVIA: ’10 Shipments Total 242,300, Up 45.6%

January 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Buoyed by a surprisingly strong December, wholesale shipments to RV retailers soared to close the 2010 year at 242,300 units, up 45.6% over 2009 and the highest annual totals for RV shipments in the past three years.

Underscoring an improved level of dealer confidence, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported today (Jan. 26) that total wholesale shipments to retailers of all RVs increased to 18,300 units in RVIA’s December 2010 survey of manufacturers.

The total was 36.5% greater than last month and 30.7% greater than this same month last year.

Shipments of all towable RVs were at 16,400 units in December 2010, up 32.3% over the final month the previous year, while motorhome shipments totaled 1,900 units, a gain of 18.8% over December 2009.  Seasonally adjusted, the December total represents an annualized rate of more than 295,000 units, the best monthly showing since April 2008.

No towable or motorized segment reported a shipment decrease compared to the previous year, although Class B coaches remained level for the month-to-month comparison and was the only segment to show a decline in year-to-date deliveries.

Shipments by segment were as follows:

  • Travel trailers: 10,400, up 23.8% for the month, and 42.3% for the year (144,500).
  • Fifth-wheel trailers: 4,100, up 24.2% for the month, and 48.6% for the year (54,700).
  • Folding camping trailers: 1,600, up 166.7% for the month, and 22% for the year (15,000).
  • Truck campers: 300, up 200% for the month, and 52.6% for the year (2,900).
  • Class A motorhomes: 1,100, up 22.2% for the month, and 122% for the year (13,100).
  • Class B motorhomes: 100, level for the month, and down 15.8% for the year (1,600).
  • Class C motorhomes: 700, up 16.7% for the month, and 72.1% for the year (10,500).
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