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Market Overview

As Baby Boomers Settle Down, RVs See A Comeback

As Baby Boomers Settle Down, RVs See A Comeback

It may be a perfect storm of sorts - a growing economy and the fact that more baby boomers are retiring and heading for the great outdoors – but the net result is a resurgence in recreational vehicle sales of all kinds.

From towable campers to motor homes, fishing boats to pontoons, jet skis to snowmobiles, the recreational vehicle industry did very well last year. Even some vehicles not normally tied to the RV industry, like pickup trucks and motorcycles, saw increased sales.

Tom Walworth, President of Statistical Surveys in Grand Rapids, Michigan told Bloomberg that the total for all new RV units sold in 2013 rose 11 percent from the preceding year and that sales could top 335,000 in 2014, the highest sales figures in six years.

Walworth said, “All things are a go for the RV industry again.”

Related: Ford's 2014 Plan: New Engines, New Hires, New Technology

The winners include Thor Industries (NYSE: THO), maker of Airstream and Dutchmen recreational vehicles, two of the premier names in the business.

Another beneficiary of RV resurgence was Winnebago (NYSE: WGO) best known for its motorhomes.

In addition, because sales of new RVs have been depressed for the past several years, there’s a shortage of late-model used vehicles and trailers on dealer lots. As a result, says Winnebago CEO, Randy Potts, many buyers have been seeking out less-expensive new options.

Most companies have been working to increase selection among lower-priced models. For companies like Winnebago that means more choices in the Minnie Winnie and Sunstar lines.

CNNMoney pointed to some additional segments of the RV economy that have benefited as well.

One area is male leisure, including snowmobiles, jet skis, motorcycles, dirt bikes and other manly vehicles, including pickup trucks. All this is good news for Ford, General Motors, and Harley-Davidson to name a few.

Another company poised to benefit is Polaris, which specializes in dirt bikes, snowmobiles and other small vehicles.

On the water, a projected increase of five to seven percent in sales spells good news for companies like Malibu Boats (NASDAQ: MBUU), while outdoor specialists such as Dick’s and Cabela’s could see a bump as well.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.


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