Fishing & Boating News

MARINE BUSINESS LEADERS' OUTLOOK CONTINUES UPWARD TREND

Boat manufacturers plan on hiring to meet increased demand for boats

by: Dan Green, NMMA Staff,

(May. 19, 2004 - CHICAGO, IL) Marine business leaders continue to be optimistic about the economic state of the recreational marine industry, according to the latest Marine Business Leaders Outlook (MBLO) Quarterly Survey released today by the Recreational Marine Research Center (RMRC). Based on a scale of zero to 200 with a neutral rating of 100, the MBLO Business Confidence Index of 157 for the first quarter of 2004 (1Q04) indicates solid optimism for the marine industry for the next three months, compared to a reading of 150 the previous quarter. The outlook is more subdued over the coming year, as the confidence index falls back to 141 for the next six months, then inches up to 142 for the 12-month outlook. A strong first quarter contributed to the positive outlook, as the Unit Sales Index rose to 177 in 1Q04 compared to 151 the previous quarter, and 92 in 1Q03. a high number of survey respondents (177 based on the same 200 scale) said that new unit sales and dollar sales were higher compared to 1Q03. "The positive outlook among marine business leaders and the performance during the first quarter are consistent with recent reports about the economic recovery," says NMMA Market Statistics director Jim Petru. "Marine industry leaders are somewhat less optimistic about the environment for boat sales during the next 12 months, but most believe the industry will continue its economic recovery in spite of higher gasoline prices and the fluctuating stock market." Moving forward, manufacturers expect to increase production levels an average of 17 percent during the second quarter. "More manufacturers are unable to meet production targets through existing capacity or overtime and will hire more employees to meet the demand," says Dr. Ed Mahoney, RMRC and Michigan State University. In fact, 92 percent of manufacturers participating in the survey indicated they will be hiring more employees in the second quarter to build up production. The MBLO Quarterly Survey is comprised of a 750-member panel with representation from boat manufacturers, dealers, marine lenders, aftermarket retailers, distributors, boatyards and marinas from around the country. The MBLO survey covered performance in 1Q04, compared with the previous four quarters, as well as industry expectations and plans for the next three, six and twelve months. More detailed results on the various industry segments covered in the Marine Business Leaders Outlook are included in the full report, which is only available to panel participants. To participate in the panel and be the first to receive the complete results each quarter, contact Petru at (312) 946-6202; jpetru@nmma.org. The Recreational Marine Research Center was created jointly through a partnership between Michigan State University and National Marine Manufacturers Association. The RMRC was developed to address market research needs in the marine industry, and its membership includes all segments of the industry, including boat and engine manufacturers, dealers, retailers, marinas and financial services organizations. For more information on becoming a member, contact Petru.