CHICAGO – A hurricane is never a welcome event. But after a challenging November and December, in which boat sales in Florida – and in other areas as well – took a hit, it’s good news that the Miami International Boat Show may benefit from pent-up demand.
During its first quarter earnings conference call, MarineMax attributed a decline in revenue, compared to the previous year, in part to Hurricane Wilma and the resulting delay of the Fort Lauderdale show.
MarineMax CEO Bill McGill estimated that the company saw half to a quarter of the traffic it normally does at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
The company has “high hopes” that at the Miami show, it will make up at least some of the business it missed out on due to the rescheduling of the Fort Lauderdale show. Not only does business conducted at the Miami show make up a significant percentage of its second quarter revenues, it “sets the stage for sales throughout the rest of the year,” according to McGill.
Miami show organizers are optimistic as well, based in part on last year’s show, which seemed to benefit from a worse hurricane season in 2004.
In 2005, attendance topped 145,000, a 5-percent increase over 2004, and many exhibitors reported higher sales than the prior year.
“With Fort Lauderdale attendance way off, several months time for people to recover from Wilma and 15 months since the 2004 hurricanes, I think this Miami is going to be extremely strong,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich in an interview yesterday. “Boaters have insurance checks in hand and will be buying in Miami. I also suspect that a lot of out-of-towners that didn’t make it to Fort Lauderdale will be coming to Miami.”
While the high-end of the market continues to do well, Dammrich said he is hearing that, unlike recent years, “there is good buying across the whole range of sizes this year.”
The exception may be the upper Midwest, which is being impacted by the troubled American car business, and the aluminum market, which Dammrich said is typically softer when the economy is strong.
“Outside of aluminum, we are getting very good reports from dealers at NMMA shows and expect that to continue throughout the first quarter of this year. The economy is still growing and so consumer confidence is up,” he concluded.
Brunswick Corp. isn’t so optimistic about the coming year, however. In its fourth quarter and year end earnings conference call yesterday, the company warned that it is expecting a flat year in 2006, due in part to a decline in retail demand across the United States during the fourth quarter. This decline occurred across all brands, in a wide spectrum of boat sizes and was not limited to any one geographic region, according to the company.
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