Miami: GE, NMMA optimistic for 2014

MIAMI - This year should see more growth for the marine market as the overall economy continues to improve.

That was the sentiment from this year’s Industry Leadership Conference, presented by GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance and the National Marine Manufacturers Association, to kick off the Miami International Boat Show.

“We have a wave of optimism as we approach this year,” said Bruce Van Wagoner, president of the marine group at GE.

The marine market continues to show “steady growth,” creating a “healthier space” with stronger sales, improving turns and an increase in earnings, Van Wagoner said.

Channel health is also good, with fresher, more current inventory on hand.

GE is estimating that 2013 saw a 5.5 to 5.7 percent increase (in dollars) in sales in 2013 and is planning for an 8 percent increase in 2014, Van Wagoner said.

NMMA is also seeing positive early signs for 2014, said president Thom Dammrich.

January boat show attendance is up about 10 percent, despite weather issues at some shows. The California market is also showing signs of revitalization, with attendance up at the Los Angeles Boat Show and the successful launch of the new San Francisco Boat Show, Dammrich said.

The overall U.S. economic recovery should also continue in 2014, with real GDP growth of 2.5 to 3.0 percent anticipated, said Rob Podorefsky, managing director of the GE Capital Interest Rate Management Group.

Podorefsky cited several positive trends contributing to economic growth:

  • The labor market is slowly improving, with the gap narrowing between full-time and part-time job growth in 2013
  • There is “plenty of life left” in residential construction and the category should contribute to GDP for a long time
  • There is upside potential for spending on services and business investment in 2014
  • Despite record exports in 2013, there is a real opportunity for export growth in 2014
  • Due to low interest rates and the continued recovery, the overall economy is expected to grow faster than U.S. public debt in 2014 and 2015. The federal deficit will close in on 3 percent of GDP, levels not seen since before the financial crisis.

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