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February 7, 2011-A first in 10+ years?

February 8, 2011
Filed under Features

OEMs say new unit sales on target to grow this season
Money may not grow on trees, but it seems to be falling from the sky in the Snowbelt this year.
Fueled by largely terrific snowfall, the U.S. new unit snowmobile market is poised for what is likely to be its first year-over-year retail sales increase since 2000.
Of course, the volume for this season’s sales won’t likely be anywhere near the 2000 volume (140,000-plus units), but the retail success so far certainly is good news for the market.
“Based on what we’ve seen in retail sales through December, we are increasing our assumption on snowmobile retail sales and now believe the industry will increase 5-10 percent,” Claude Jordan, Arctic Cat CEO, said in the company’s recent earnings report.
Jordan wasn’t specific in terms of what market — the North American or worldwide market — he believes will be finish up in sales. But both Arctic Cat and Polaris Industries reported vastly improved sled sales in their recent fiscal reports.
Bennett Morgan, president and chief operating officer of Polaris Industries, said Polaris’ retail sales were up over 30 percent after the company’s first quarter. Morgan said the sales increase has resulted in market share gains.
“We’ve regained the No. 1 market share spot season-to-date in the critical mountain segment,” Morgan said.
“The North American industry strengthened considerably in the fourth quarter,” he said, “driven by solid early snow and good riding conditions across most of the Snowbelt.”
Morgan said the industry’s new sled retail sales rose by a double-digit percentage in the company’s fourth quarter and for the season the industry is up about 10 percent.
Polaris has had considerable retail success, Morgan said, with its new products, including its Rush and RMK models.
Jordan of Arctic Cat said the company’s wholesale sled sales were up 33 percent for the quarter, primarily due to international sales. North American sales also improved as dealer inventories reduced nearly 20 percent compared to a year ago.
“We continue to focus on matching wholesale to retail to ensure the dealers have the right product,” Jordan said.
Polaris’ international sales also have improved dramatically. The company’s fourth-quarter overseas sales rose 43 percent, principally due to retail activity in the Scandinavian region.
North American aftermarket sales also appear to be quite healthy this season. Terry Baisley, vice president of sales for national distributor Western Power Sports, says the company has seen strong parts and accessories throughout the Snowbelt this season.
“The dealers who were having a slower year that stepped up and added some product in their store to support the consumer on snow, it’s paying off for them,” he said. PSB

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