Wet weather dampens boat-sales projections

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A near record-wet June for states east of the Mississippi River is leading two Wells Fargo analysts to drop their projections for 2013 boat sales by about half, from a projected 5 percent increase from 2012 sales to a 2.5 or 3 percent increase.

Statistical Surveys’ report that sales in the industry’s main powerboat segments rose only 1.8 percent in June, compared with the same month a year earlier, in 24 early-reporting states, was “disappointing,” senior analyst Timothy Conder and associate analyst Joe Lachky said in a report.

“While customers with material non-refundable deposits appeared to take delivery in June, collective sales were hurt, in our opinion, from very poor ‘walk-up’ business, again due to weather,” Conder and Lachky wrote, adding that states east of the Mississippi all had near-record precipitation in June.

That means analysts will want to see how bad weather has affected U.S., Canadian and European sales in second-quarter earnings results, many of which are being announced later this month.

Statistical Surveys reported that sales in the 31- to 40-foot cruiser category for the first six months of the year were up 2.3 percent from 2012 results in the early-reporting states and Conder and Lachky called that result “a bright note.”

“We feel July and August — [which account for] 13 percent and 9 percent of annual retail unit sales — will see some pent-up demand reclaimed skewed to aluminum and fiberglass boats under 30 feet,” they wrote. “But it is now highly likely that some portion of retail sales will be deferred into 2014. Therefore, 2013 industry retail unit sales are now likely to approximate a 2.5 percent increase, versus the prior estimate of 5 percent.”

The analysts kept their outperform rating for Brunswick Corp., a company they follow. That’s in part because U.S. boat industry dynamics should keep “a relative floor” under new-boat demand, and also in part because the company’s diversity helps offset seasonal challenges faced by the marine industry.

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