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3/14/2011-Finance Digest

March 14, 2011
Filed under Features

Kawasaki expects N.A. unit sales to increase for its fiscal year
Kawasaki has seen an increase in wholesale units sold in North America compared to the year-ago quarter.
Its parent company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, said its North American unit sales through its first three quarters totaled 73,000 units, a 22 percent rise over a year ago. That wholesale unit total includes motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and PWC. For motorcycles alone, the company’s wholesales sales in North American remain on par with a year ago at 37,000 units.
Kawasaki, however, is forecasting its fiscal year sales in North America to rise significantly over a year ago. The company believes it will wholesale 121,000 units in its current fiscal year, a 51 percent rise over its previous fiscal year. That total is expected to include 70,000 motorcycles.
Kawasaki’s European wholesale sales have amounted to 43,000 units through its third quarter, a decrease of 12 percent compared to a year ago.
Overall, the company’s worldwide revenue increased 9 percent in its third quarter. Kawasaki Heavy Industries also reported a vastly improved net income of $338 million in its third quarter after finishing the year-ago quarter with a loss.
Suzuki’s North American sales decrease significantly
Suzuki Motor Corp.’s net revenue remains above the year-ago levels even as its North American powersports unit sales, on a wholesale level, remain far below its 2009 comparison.
The manufacturer’s unit sales in North America, as outlined in its latest earnings report, totaled 13,000 units for its motorcycle and ATVs. That wholesale unit total is for its first ninth months of its current fiscal period, April 1-Dec. 31. A year ago at this time, the company’s motorcycle division sales in North America totaled 43,000 units.
Worldwide, Suzuki’s motorcycle division sales fell nearly 5 percent due to the decline in North America, Europe and Japan. The decline in Europe was much smaller, at 14 percent. Suzuki did see a sizable increase in its motorcycle division sales in Asia.
Overall, Suzuki’s net revenue rose nearly 8.5 percent over the year-ago period. Its auto sales also rose by nearly 9.5 percent. The company’s North American sales totaled $785 million, a drop of 33 percent from the year-ago period.
The company’s net income rose, increasing to $511 million for its first three fiscal quarters.
Bernish promoted to lead protective life division
Chris Bernish has been promoted to vice president-general manager for the marine and powersports division of the Asset Protection Division of Protective Life.
Bernish previously served as the vice president of sales.
Protective’s Asset Protection Division is one of the five operating divisions within Protective. The Asset Protection Division offers its products and services through automobile, marine, RV, and powersports dealers.
The division invests in products and services through underwriting, administering and marketing its own programs. These programs include extended service contracts, GAP coverage and credit insurance.
“Chris’ previous experience and prior roles with Protective along with his extensive knowledge of the industry makes him uniquely qualified to lead our marine and powersports business,” Scott Karchunas, executive vice president of Asset Protection Division, said in a press release.
Bernish has been with the marine and powersports operations, located in Minnetonka, Minn., for seven years. Bernish had served in a variety of roles with several Fortune 500 companies managing sales, marketing, customer support and technical operations before joining Protective in 2004.
Polaris announces extended service contract partner
Polaris Industries and Assurant Solutions have entered into a long-term agreement for Assurant Solutions to be the new administrator of Polaris’ extended service contracts.
“The flexibility of Assurant Solutions’ programs, their world-class training expertise and their stability as a Fortune 500 company make them an ideal fit for Polaris,” Scott Swenson, vice president of financial services for Polaris, said in a press release. “We know Polaris dealers and their customers will be taken care of with the same service standards they have become accustomed to working with Polaris.”
The new program, called POLARISTAR ESC, is designed to deliver greater value and convenience to Polaris dealers and their customers. Extended service contracts will be offered in the United States and Canada for the manufacturer’s snowmobiles, ATVs, Rangers, Victory motorcycles and Breeze low emission vehicles.
“Our consultative approach is a great fit for Polaris and their dealers,” Joe Erdeman, president of Extended Protection Solutions for Assurant Solutions, said in the press release.
Merrick Bank joins Wolters Kluwer Financial Services
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services has announced that Merrick Bank has joined its AppOne platform.
AppOne automates the indirect lending, credit approval and compliance processes for lenders and the auto, RV and marine dealers they work with.
Merrick Bank, a national leader in providing boat, RV and motorcycle loans for customers with past credit problems, works closely with dealers to help them retain valuable customers who have blemishes on their credit history that may preclude traditional financing.
AppOne will initially connect Merrick Bank with Tracker Marine Financial Services’ network of dealerships, with additional dealers and dealer groups being added in subsequent phases.
In addition to automating credit application processing and underwriting, AppOne also integrates Wolters Kluwer Financial Services’ Bankers Systems retail installment contracts, which document the financing of vehicle loans.
The contracts are maintained by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services’ compliance experts, who monitor legislative and regulatory changes affecting the indirect finance industry in all U.S. jurisdictions. The contracts are protected by the company’s limited compliance warranty.
“AppOne will help us provide a faster response to our dealers and an easier process in completing all the loan documents needed to originate a loan,” said Scott Anderson, vice president, marketing manager for Merrick Bank’s Recreation Lending program.
“In today’s economic climate where many consumers are rebuilding their credit history, dealerships are looking for strong lenders in the nonprime market,” said Lee Domingue, CEO of Indirect Lending at Wolters Kluwer Financial Services.
Interstate National continues acquisition growth strategy
Interstate National Corp., one of the nation’s largest independent providers of vehicle service contracts and other F&I products, and its equity partner have completed the acquisition of Financial American Insurance Group.  
Financial American develops and administers credit-related insurance products and services marketed through financial institutions, dealers and general agents throughout all 50 states.
For Interstate National, the transaction represents the continuation of an aggressive growth and acquisition strategy that has been a key initiative of Interstate National and its equity partner, San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital, for the past five years.  
“The addition of Financial American allows us to offer our clients the broadest, most comprehensive line of products and services available in the industry today,” Interstate National CEO Shaun Fetherston said in a press release. PSB

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