Brunswick expects Covid-fueled spike in boat sales to carry into 2021

Boat maker Brunswick is rushing to keep up with demand as more people become interested in boating, CEO David Foulkes said Friday.

The executive told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that Brunswick’s boat sales have grown by double digits in three straight quarters, adding that buyers are becoming more diverse in age, gender and race.

“Freedom Boat Club has 35% now of its members are women, which is tremendously different participation in boating than we had even a few years ago,” Foulkes said in a “Mad Money” interview, referring to the members-only boat club Brunswick acquired in 2019. “I think it’s a very, very favorable time for us and for the overall industry.”

Brunswick said Thursday that boat sales jumped by 44% in the first quarter on a year-over-year basis. Boat revenues, which made up a third of Brunswick’s business in the quarter, were up 12% from pre-pandemic levels.

Foulkes said it’s the start of a new cycle for Brunswick, whose boat brands include Sea Ray, Bayliner and Boston Whaler. The $8.3 billion company also builds engines and other parts for watercrafts.

Pandemic-era shutdowns spurred participation in outdoor activities as many Americans and people abroad sought new ways to entertain themselves. More flexible work trends also made spending time on the water more accessible for many outside the weekends, increasing the value of being a boat owner, Foulkes added.

Foulkes also said Brunswick’s inventories are down about 41% at dealerships, magnified by high demand in the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand markets.

The company added 1,000 more workers to its headcount last quarter. Foulkes noted that Brunswick wants to keep building up its workforce as capacities at plants around the world.

“We believe it will be 2023 or 2024 before we can materially build back those inventories, and we expect to essentially be in full wholesale production through that entire period, not only to satisfy these historic levels of retail demand but also to backfill our pipeline through the whole period,” Foulkes said.

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