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Feb. 11, 2008 – Finance Digest

Zurich now offers service contracts to powersports market
Zurich, one of the world’s largest property-casualty insurance companies, announced its Direct Underwriters business unit, which provides specialized products and services for the automotive industry, is now making its vehicle service contracts available to the North American powersports market.
In describing these F&I products, Bill Stoothoff, vice president of the F&I division for Zurich’s Direct Underwriters business unit, said, “We have provided property and casualty insurance and other financial products to motorcycle dealers for more than 30 years. Our research shows there is a receptive market for F&I for powersports equipment as well. It is the next logical step to begin providing these products to this market.”
Stoothoff says feedback from Zurich’s annual motorcycle dealer council meeting played a key role in this new direction. The council, whose members are powersports equipment dealers, confirmed Zurich’s belief that success could be achieved for F&I products in the powersports market.
“Zurich differentiates its products by the additional tools and training we provide,” Stoothoff said.
“We take a truly consultative approach with every dealership, with our ultimate goal of helping each manage its operations to make more money.”
According to Stoothoff, along with vehicle service contracts for motorcycles (on- and off-road), ATVs and scooters, Zurich will offer reinsurance and retro programs for dealerships, so they can supplement front-end income by sharing in underwriting profit and investment income.
These vehicle service contracts will feature benefits such as trip interruption, substitute vehicle and pick-up and delivery coverage in connection with covered repairs.

Ducati outlines expected revenue growth in future
Ducati expects its annual worldwide new motorcycle sales to increase more than 10 percent each of the next three years, the manufacturer says in its recently released three-year outlook.
The Italian manufacturer expects its new bike sales to be an estimated 40,761 in 2007 and for that to increase to 54,000 by 2010, the final year of the outlined plan.
During that time period, Ducati is planning on releasing three new bikes per year until 2010 when four are scheduled to debut.
Ducati believes by 2010 a larger percentage of its new motorcycles (25 percent) will be distributed annually in the United States than in its homeland (24 percent).
The three-year outlook also said:

  • Ducati expected to increase its apparel revenue by 22 percent in 2007 over the prior year period and expects further growth in this category and in its licensing revenues in the next few years;
  • the company expects to recover the market share it had in 2000 by 2009 and then improve on that from then on;
  • Ducati expects its product lineup to change from 15 percent dual, 50 percent naked, 28 percent superbike and 7 percent sport touring to 30 percent dual, 40 percent naked and 30 percent superbike.

    GE Industry segments report increased revenue, profit
    GE Money and GE Commercial Finance, two of the company’s segments in the powersports industry, improved revenue and profit in 2007 compared to the previous year, according to the company’s year-end report.
    GE Money, which provides lending and financial services in more than 20 industries, increased its year-end revenue to $25 billion, a 26 percent jump over the previous year. Its profit of $4.2 billion represented a 31 percent increase over 2006.
    “Our financial services businesses performed well in an extremely violatile market,” GE CEO Jeff Immelt said in a press release. “GE Money had 7 percent earnings growth with excellent global performance offsetting challenges in the U.S. market.”
    GE Commercial Finance, which includes Franchise Finance that has been a player in a number of dealership acquisitions, also saw year-over-year increases. Its revenue rose 11 percent over last year and its net profit increased 14 percent to more than $6 billion.
    Overall, GE?reported full-year revenue of $173 billion, up 14 percent over a year ago.

    Indiana dealer, national lender announce deal
    An Indiana dealer has worked with a national lender to acquire a $1.2 million loan through a program that combines private and government-backed funding.
    Midwest Capital Corp. recently announced the deal, which will allow Noblesville Honda Kawasaki of Noblesville, Ind., to purchase a new and expanded facilty.
    Midwest Capital Corp. provided 90 percent of the financing and a 25-year amortization under the SBA 504 loan program to help the business owner purchase his new building.
    The program combines private finance money, which provides up to 50 percent of the project financing, with government-backed financing, which provides up to 40 percent of the project financing. Midwest Capital Corp. is a national, non-bank lender that provides conventional and SBA 504 long-term commercial mortgage loans.

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