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Positive outlook highlights GE Industry Leadership Conference

By Jonathan Sweet

MIAMI – There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the economic outlook and the marine industry in 2013, according to the latest forecast from GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance.

“It’s a little-by-little type of process,” said Robert Podorefsky, managing director, GE Capital Interest Rate Management Group. “That should lead to moderate growth in 2013.”

The forecast was part of the “A New Spirit in the Market” Industry Leadership Conference at Miami’s International Boat Show, presented by GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Podorefsky highlighted several positive indicators for the economy:

  • The Case-Shiller index now shows home prices rising at an annual rate that exceeds the inflation rate and mortgage rates
  • Personal consumer spending has been up for 12 straight quarters
  • EuroZone concerns have moderated since last year
  • Recent increases in US public equity market capitalization are adding some wealth effect to the economy
  • Under the right conditions, business investment should grow

Potential obstacles to growth include continuing higher unemployment and weak wage growth, deficit and debt action in Washington, as well as any “unforeseen flare-up,” Podorefsky said.

There are also several signs of a healthier marine industry, said Bruce Van Wagoner, president of GE’s Marine Group.

Retail sales by dollar volume were up 3.3 percent in 2012, while wholesale sales were up 11.1 percent. That helped to bring wholesale and retail sales into a healthier balance, Van Wagoner said. GE is forecasting an 8.8 percent increase in both categories in 2013.

The industry is also seeing better inventory management improved turn rates – over 2 – and lower levels of aged inventory. In 2009, 59 percent of dealer inventory was more than a year old, but only 14 percent was that old in 2012, according to GE figures.

“It’s a much healthier position,” Van Wagoner said. “In fact, it’s the most healthy position in the history of the marine industry.”

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