Aluminum stabilizes, but market struggles

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Early release data in September for the entire aluminum market showed signs of firming up for the second consecutive month. Single-digit declines in higher-volume states helped the aluminum segment outperform fiberglass for the period.

These statistics include 26 early reporting states, which represent approximately 62 percent of the national market.

Fiberglass boats in the 14 to 30 foot segment were down 38.7 percent for the month. On a 12-month rolling basis, the market was down 29.7 percent. Michigan and New Mexico were the only states posting single-digit declines. North Dakota and Alaska posted double-digit increases on nominal volume. The remaining states continued to show extremely soft results for the month.

Aluminum boat sales fell in September by 15.7 percent and were down 17 percent for the last 12 months. Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina, Washington, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma all posted single-digit declines. New York and Kentucky showed positive gains in the month.

PWC declined 40.7 percent in the month and were down 25.5 percent during the last year. California, Florida, Texas, and Michigan dropped steeply. Last year, retail volume was higher than normal, so the percentage drop may be slightly overstated.

Fiberglass and PWC sales continued to decline at a higher rate. Final third-quarter results are going to be down 20 to 30 percent, depending upon the market. With reliable historical marine data only dating back to 1997, we are unable to gain additional insight from similar events, like the 1994-95 economic slowdown. Segment volumes appear prematurely low relative to prior years.

This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue.

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