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Jan. 21, 2008 – Finance Digest

January 21, 2008
Filed under Features

Cycle Country expects improved 2008 sales
Cycle Country Accessories Corp., the Spencer, Iowa, manufacturer of ATV and snowmobile accessories, is expecting this year’s sales to increase by more than 20 percent over the previous year, CEO Randy Kempf said in a recent conference call with stock analysts.
Kempf also reported the company’s revenue for its first quarter was 7.5 percent improved over the year-ago period, according to a transcript of the conference call on www.seekingalpha.com.
“Early and heavy snows across the country’s entire Snow Belt like we’ve had so far this season creates positive results for us,” Kempf said, “as consumers’ buying decisions for snow-removal products tend toward a blade solution for their ATV. We are working overtime to meet the demand, which is strong not only in the snowplow-related products but also in contract manufacturing and wheel covers.”
The company announced its annual earnings guidance, believing the 2008 fiscal year will yield nearly double the fiscal earnings from 2007.
For its fiscal first quarter, which includes October-December, Cycle Country was up 7.5 percent compared to the previous-year quarter in shipments, Kempf says.
Besides improved snowmobile-related products sales, Kempf says the company has had significant growth in the lawn mower market with its wheel covers to OEMs as a production part or as an accessory option.
“We actually closed November at a gross sales number of $1.7 million, which represents that number of 7.5 percent above quarter-to-quarter last year,” Kempf said. “Our bookings actually for January also look very strong such that we have the potential of shipping as much as $1.7 (million) in January as well.”
In a separate press release, Cycle Country announced the retirement of founder Jim Danbom. Danbom and his wife Jan recently had served on the company’s board of directors, which has been reduced to five members.
Danbom had fashioned the first snowplow for an ATV from his own workshop, according to the company’s Web site. He started Cycle Country in 1981.


Pirelli reports market share gains in North America
Pirelli and Metzeler have increased their market share in North America, the company said in a recent financial report.
Pirelli Tire reported increased sales for its third quarter and its first nine months of 2007. It also noted that it has seen increased demand in all of its motorcycle markets in North America.
The manufacturer said its nine-month sales topped euro 3.1 billion ($4.7 billion), an increase of 6.7 percent compared to the year-ago period.
Net income for its first nine months increased 4.2 percent to euro 153 million ($225 million).
For its third quarter, Pirelli’s revenue jumped 7 percent to more than euro 1 billion ($1.5 billion).
Pirelli’s expense for research and development increased slightly, up to euro 113 million ($166 million) for its first nine months. Pirelli’s personnel expense also has increased because of growth of operations in Romania and China.


F&I?certification workshop slated at different sites
An effort at creating certified F&I staff — and a two-day workshop to accomplish that — is set for this winter.
The effort is aimed at providing dealership personnel a greater understanding of F&I regulations, product knowledge, ethical business practices and more.
The certification process has been developed by Gart Sutton & Associates, an industry management consultant group, and is being sponsored by GE Money and Powersports Business.
Sutton and his staff have prepared the workshop, called Finance & Insurance Retail Specialist Training or F.I.R.S.T., that dealership staff can attend to become certified.
During the workshop, F&I personnel will learn about contracts and agreements, a typical F&I menu presentation, conflict resolution and key F&I performance indicators and benchmarks. The course will not include any endorsements of any individual F&I provider’s programs or products.
Workshop participants must pass tests that will be held during the workshop to qualify for certification. There will be a password-protected Web page listing the students and their certification dates. Graduates can access it or provide dealers with the password so they can verify their certification and training date.
All of the workshops will be held at GE Money locations.
The cost of the two-day workshop is $995. The cost includes Sutton’s book, “The Best Operators Guide to Finance & Insurance” on CD, F&I forms and job aids, a course workbook and workshop lunches.
The workshop also will include two follow-up seminars that will be held online, one 30 days after graduation and then six months after the workshops.
Class sizes will be limited to 12-15 students.
The workshops will be held Jan. 22-23 in Stamford, Conn., Jan. 24-25 in St. Paul, Minn., Feb. 26-27 in Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 28-29 in Dallas and March 18-19 in Irvine, Calif.
Interested participants can register at Gartsutton.com.


Nation’s e-commerce shows healthy growth percentage
The most recently reported national e-commerce figures show online sales outpaced overall U.S. retail sales on a percentage basis by more than four times.
Third-quarter e-commerce sales totaled $34.7 billion, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to the previous quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Web site.
In comparison, overall U.S. retail sales grew at less than 1 percent over the previous quarter, the U.S. Census reported.
Compared to the previous year, third-quarter e-commerce sales grew 19.3 percent. Total retail sales in that same period grew less than 4 percent.
How e-commerce sales fared in the fourth quarter will be reported in February.


Rental company adds new international outlet
EagleRider, a worldwide motorcycle rental and touring company, has added its first location in Costa Rica.
The rental company also has outlets in the United States, Mexico, France and Spain.
EagleRider pioneered the Harley-Davidson rental concept in 1992 and today operates a powersport rental fleet that includes manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson, Honda, BMW and Polaris.
The new Costa Rica outlet is located in San Jose and will feature a “Ride the Volcano” tour.


Viper Powersports cancels Melling SportsCar buyout
Viper Powersports terminated its stock purchase agreement with Melling SportsCar, designer and developer of sports car engines, where Viper intended to acquire 100 percent of Melling SportsCar through a tax-free exchange, according to a Viper Powersports press release.
Viper Powersports was to issue 1.5 shares of its common stock for each of the 4,551,334 common shares of Melling. Viper Powersports ended the agreement because it was unable to raise the capital funds needed to support sports car development and its primary business.

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