Fourth-quarter and yearly earnings are down for Forest City-based Winnebago Industries, but officials at the recreational vehicle maker are still pleased. Fourth-quarter earnings fell about 20-percent as deliveries of R-Vs dropped amid an industry-wide downturn. Winnebago C-E-O Bruce Hertzke says despite earnings being off, it was still a good fiscal year. Hertzke says it’s the company’s second-best year in the 47 years they’ve been in the R-V industry. While earnings are down a bit from last year and production had to be slowed, he says the economy will strengthen again and “we’ll be able to come back” as consumers become more confident. Revenues for fiscal year 2005 were 992-million dollars, down when compared to one-point-one billion in fiscal 2004. Hertzke says they are satisfied finishing the fiscal year with Winnebago’s second-best showing ever. He says the company has learned to roll with economic changes. After 9/11, they went to four-day work weeks with reduced hours, but less than four months later, the economy straightened out and they were back in overtime. Hertzke says much the same thing happened after the start of the war in Iraq. Hertzke says the outlook for the industry looks slow for the fall period, but it seems to be following a trend with the world economic situation and the price of gasoline.Gas prices started their upward climb in the fourth quarter and shot up further right after the end of the quarter on August 27th, right before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Hertzke says people who own R-Vs know they’ll use them no matter what the price is at the pump. The industry-wide slump in motor home sales prompted Winnebago to lay off around four-percent of its workforce at its four plants in Forest City, Charles City, Hampton, and Lorimor in August.
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