MarineMax sales appear stronger than expected

DENVER – MarineMax seems to be performing stronger than expected at retail in the wake of Hurricane Wilma, according to a new report from Ed Aaron, vice president of equity research for RBC Capital Markets.

“We’ve seen minimal benefit this far from customers replacing damaged boats, but dealers in regions affected by hurricanes appear to be experiencing a high volume of service business,” Aaron stated.

After MarineMax reduced its FY-06 guidance during its fourth quarter earnings conference call, RBC changed its comparable store sales growth forecast to reflect a 10-percent decline. The firm had originally forecast flat comparable store sales. Now, it has changed its tune again.

“We now believe MarineMax’s comps are tracking flat to slightly positive for the quarter,” wrote Aaron. “This would be a notable accomplishment, given the impact of [Hurricane] Wilma and the difficult comparison. In Q1 of last year, comps increased 17 percent on a 56-percent comparison.”

As a result, it is returning to a flat Q1 comps forecast and raising its EPS forecast to $0.04 from breakeven.

“While we recognize that the quarter is not complete yet, we believe these estimates are achievable barring some unusual event,” he stated. “These assumptions are similar to ones we used before Hurricane Wilma. If our assumptions are correct, MarineMax may be in a position to restore its pre-hurricane guidance, which included high single-digit comps and EPS of $1.95-$2.00.”

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