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Fleetwood Flops

April 28, 1999|Tom Petruno

What bull market?

Shares of Riverside-based Fleetwood Enterprises plunged again Tuesday, falling $3.19 to $23.75--the lowest since 1996.

The company on April 20 warned that earnings in the quarter that ended Sunday would be 20% below analysts' estimates.

The problem isn't in the company's well-known recreational-vehicle business: Fleetwood has a record backlog of motor home orders, it says.

Rather, the company is incurring heavy costs from a new push into direct retailing of its manufactured housing--mobile homes, as they often are called, even though they generally aren't mobile. Fleetwood has opened or acquired 165 manufactured-housing retail sales centers just in the last year.

The company insists the retail business will be "solidly in the black" this spring.

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