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Fleetwood Shares Jump 12% on Earnings Report

The mobile-home maker is helped by a stronger- than-expected quarter. Hurricane Frances boosts sales.

September 08, 2004|From Reuters

Shares of mobile-home maker Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. rose 12.4% on Tuesday, helped by stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings as well as the expected effect of Hurricane Frances on sales.

Analysts noted that the stock had gained almost 40% since mid-August, when Hurricane Charley struck Florida. But they said the company's first-quarter results, filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, also were better than expected.

Share prices of competitors including Winnebago Industries Inc. and Thor Industries Inc. were also up sharply Tuesday, helped by Riverside-based Fleetwood.

"This should be their [Fleetwood's] first profitable year in four years, so it's kicking off to a good start," said Bill Gibson, an analyst and partner with Nollenberger Capital Partners, who owns the shares and has a "buy" rating on the stock.

Fleetwood said net income was $6.7 million, or 12 cents a share, in the fiscal first quarter ended July 25, compared with $1.9 million, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier. Two analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected earnings of 5 cents a share.

Fleetwood shares closed Tuesday at $15, up $1.66, for the biggest percentage gain on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Thor Industries rose $1.09, to $27.58, while shares of Winnebago were up $1.81, to $34.52, both on the NYSE.

Fleetwood told analysts and investors during a conference call that Hurricane Charley had boosted its manufactured housing backlog about 2,000 units to a total of 4,200 units at the end of August.

It said the dollar amount of the backlog had risen to $75 million from $46 million as a result.

Fleetwood also said it had sold about 700 recreational vehicles because of the hurricanes, predominantly to its dealers and government agencies for emergency use.

Fleetwood credited product innovation and manufacturing efficiencies with helping its fiscal first-quarter results.

"Our motor home division is performing particularly well and, while it contributed much of the operating profit, both divisions of our housing group also showed substantial improvement," said Edward Caudill, the company's president and chief executive, in a statement Tuesday.

"On the RV side, in terms of travel trailers, there's a lot of room for margin expansion as well," Gibson added.

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