Thor shares tumble as RV maker's sales fall

Thor Industries, the maker of Airstreams and other recreational vehicles, recorded weaker sales and earnings that missed expectations for the latest quarter, leading shares sharply lower this week.

The company on Thursday reported $1.87 billion in fourth-quarter sales, down 3.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago but slightly higher than Wall Street’s estimate. Sales of towable RVs were flat, but motorized RV sales were down 13.2 percent.

Thor’s net income slipped about 26 percent to $88.2 million. On a per-share basis, Thor earned $1.67. Analysts were looking for stronger earnings of $2.03 per share.

CEO Bob Martin said Thor has grappled with rising costs, including expenses related to materials and labor, and the company offered more dealer incentives during the quarter to spur sales. Thor also reduced production of its RVs and lowered wholesale shipments.

Thor also incurred costs from its planned acquisition of Erwin Hymer Group, a European RV manufacturer.

“Our fourth quarter results reflect the actions taken during the period to balance dealer inventory levels,” Martin said in a statement. “We believe our reduced production levels, combined with higher promotional costs and solid retail demand, have improved the position of our dealers’ inventories as they enter the new model year and prepare for the upcoming Dealer Open House.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
THO THOR INDUSTRIES INC. 124.34 +1.79 +1.46%

Thor is considered an economic bellwether, since its RV sales are closely tied to disposable income levels. Despite a weaker fourth quarter, Thor booked record full-year sales and earnings.

Shares dropped nearly 13 percent on Thursday. The stock continued to retreat on Friday, edging more than 2 percent lower. As of Thursday, Thor was down about 39 percent since the start of the year.