Forest City-based Winnebago Industries says revenues were down for the fourth quarter and for the year as the nation’s economic situation sent motor home sales tumbling. The recreational vehicle maker says it lost 12.7 million dollars, or 44 cents per share, for the quarter ending August 30th, compared to a profit of 14.8 million, or 49 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Winnebago C.E.O. Bob Olson says it’s just been a tough market to sell motor homes in. Olson says the market has deteriorated so fast over the course of the fourth quarter that it’s been difficult for the company to keep up — but the company is trying to figure out where the industry is going to go from a buying standpoint so they can adjust Winnebago’s expense load to equal that, in turn stabilizing day-to-day operations and getting the plant running on a full schedule again.
Olson says while things may not be looking so great right now, things have been and could be a lot worse for the company. He says positives for the company include not having any outstanding debt, all facilities are bought and paid for, and the finished goods inventories are lower when compared to other company downturns — it’s just a fact that the market conditions are out of the company’s control.
Olson says cost of gas was a problem, but that has changed to the credit crunch. Olson not long ago three and four-dollar-a-gallon gas was a concern, while he says that didn’t help, he says consumers eventually adapt to higher gas prices. Olson says though, potential buyers can’t do much about the tight credit situation.
He says the biggest problem facing the industry nationwide is the availability of financing to buy the motor homes after several lending institutions have buckled down in the last few months. Winnebago’s profits for fiscal year 2008 fell to 2.8 million dollars from 41.6 million dollars in fiscal year 2007, while revenue slipped to $604 million from $870 million in the previous year.