PWC sales maintain strength in June, early report shows: analyst

U.S. retail boat sales bounced back in June, thanks in part to another impressive month of personal watercraft sales.

In a research note provided to Powersports Business, BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson reports that “preliminary data from Statistical Surveys (SSI), suggests that June U.S. boat industry retail sales increased +21% yoy (+19% in main powerboat segments), though ytd retail remains -3% (-7% in main powerboat segments). After unexpected softness in May (revised up to +5% from -2%), the June results come in much closer to where we think investors were expecting.

“SSI registration data is based on the reporting of 30 states (57% of the market). ​Key states included: FL, NY, TX, MI, NC, MA, CT, WI, AZ. Key states missing: CA, MN, SC, NJ, MD, VA. ​The data will be revised as more states report.

“Retail sales of personal watercraft increased +28% and are up +12% ytd. PWC and jet boats are the only boat types that have experienced ytd yoy growth. BRP's (DOO) Sea-Doo brand benefited from this growth in PWC.

“We estimate that boat dealer inventory is now down over -54% yoy, which presents a challenge for July retail sales.

“In the main powerboat segment, growth was entirely in smaller length boats under 30 feet, at +20%. Boats over 30 feet, which represent just 0.6% of total retail boat units in June, declined -28%. Sales of larger boats have trailed the market all season, suggesting the surge in demand could, in fact, be from first-time buyers buying smaller, less-expensive boats.

“In the main powerboat segment, the strongest performance came from ski/wake boats, up +24%, with Malibu Boat's (MBUU) Malibu and Axis brands significantly outperforming by more than double the industry growth rate. MasterCraft's (MCFT) flagship tow boat brand underperformed.

“Other top growth categories included aluminum fishing boats (+23%), with Brunswick's (BC) brands (Lund, Lowe, Crestliner, Princecraft) outperforming, and aluminum pontoons (also up +23%). Both BC's Harris and Polaris's (PII) Bennington pontoon brands trailed the market; each, interestingly, are higher-end brands in what most recognize as a lower-cost category.

“Fiberglass outboard boat sales grew +15% with BC's Boston Whaler outperforming, but MBUU's Pursuit brand showing yoy declines. Fiberglass sterndrives under 30' saw +12% growth with BC's Sea Ray sharply outperforming. MBUU's Cobalt brand trailed.”

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