New boat registrations in April fell 36.3 percent overall year-over-year and 37.8 percent in the main powerboat categories, according to preliminary data from Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan firm that tracks new boat registration data.
This is the first full month of data that reflects the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on consumer trends. However, some states may also be lagging in submitting registration data due to widespread shutdowns and work-from-home orders.
Firms like KeyBanc Capital Markets were reluctant to place too much emphasis on the data — as key states like Michigan and Texas have yet to report — according to a report by CFA Brett Andress and CFA Robert Aurand.
Registrations dropped 12.3 percent year-to-date in the main powerboat categories, and were down 14.2 percent year-to-date.
Fiberglass outboard-powered boats were down 43.5 percent in April year-over-year, and were off 14.6 percent year-to-date, according to SSI data from 24 states — roughly 45 percent of the U.S. boat market.
During the month, the top three boat categories on a percentage change (with at least 100 units registered) were ski and wake, which was down 28.9 percent year-over-year; pontoon, which was down 34.9 percent, and aluminum fish — that segment dropped 35.3 percent compared to April 2019.
But marine stocks gains are outpacing the overall market, pointed out B. Riley analyst Eric Wold.
“As an indication of improving optimism, the average stock in our recreational marine coverage universe has seen an increase of about 82 percent since the stock market lows on March 22 compared to an increase of about 29 percent for the S&P 500,” wrote Wold. “And the outperformance has been fairly broad-based with gains ranging from a low of about 32 percent for Marine Products Corp. to a high of about 96 percent for Brunswick Corp.”