Analyst sees promise in June sales numbers

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New preliminary data released Friday by Statistical Surveys confirm a Wells Fargo analyst’s assessment that a sluggish early start to 2014 in boat sales is now showing signs of an uptick.

Statistical Surveys data showed that unit sales increased 5.4 percent year over year in powerboat and 13.6 percent in ski, wake and PWC, wrote analyst Tim Conder.

High precipitation likely affected results in six of the 26 early reporting states—Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Mississippi and Tennessee.

All traditional segments grew between 6 and 11 percent year over year, with the exception of sterndrives, which declined 13.6 percent.

“Overall, the data confirms our previous observations and conversations with industry lenders of accelerating June trends with similar momentum continuing into early July,”Conder wrote in a report.

April through July historically account for about 59 percent of annual U.S. retail boat sales. Last year, because of poor second-quarter weather, sales gains didn’t begin to kick in until July, Conder noted. They then continued through October.

In 2014, year-to-date sales are stronger despite longer-lasting seasonal challenges that appear to be accelerating into July, he said.

Improving trends and new products are reinforcing the firm’s bullish position on Brunswick Corp., Malibu Boats and Sea-Doo.

Conder thinks that the capacity constraint in Brunswick’s new 35-foot SLX sterndrive, its 51 and 65 should be resolved sometime in the second quarter. The company is gaining outboard fiberglass share with those products and is approximating flattish share in aluminum products, despite heavy skewing to the wet upper Midwest.

Overall, U.S. boat industry dynamics should keep a “relative floor under new-boat demand,”Conder wrote.

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