Clearwater's MarineMax posts $113-million loss

The MarineMax at 2605 43rd St. in Tampa is one of seven that will be closing by September. The company has 87 stores.

GEN YAMAGUCHI | Times

The MarineMax at 2605 43rd St. in Tampa is one of seven that will be closing by September. The company has 87 stores.

As already depressed recreational boat sales continue to deteriorate this summer, MarineMax Inc. on Thursday reported a $113-million quarterly loss and said it would close down seven more stores by September, including one in Tampa.

"Business is as bad as anybody in this industry has seen it since the energy crisis of the 1970s," said Bill McGill, chief executive officer of the Clearwater-based chain of 87 stores in 22 states. "And it's getting worse."

While the nation's largest boat retailer reported that its flattened stock price and ever weaker sales had steered the company close to violating some of its debt covenants, other Tampa Bay boat dealers echoed similar woes. At least three dealers, including eight-outlet Passport Marine, went out of business in recent months, with more closings expected.

At O'Neill's Marina in St. Petersburg, which does $5-million in boat sales a year, the staff of eight was whittled to three. Daily traffic of six customers dwindled to six a week. Owner Alan Phillips will drop two lines of gas-guzzling recreational stern-drives in favor of Triton and Trophy saltwater fishing boats.

"People just stopped buying boats," he said. "Some stern-drives use 15 gallons an hour."

"Our sales are 17 to 20 percent off from last summer, which was also off," said Mark LaPrade, owner of Thunder Marine in St. Petersburg, which is headed for sales of $30-million this year, down from $40-million in boom time 2006. "I don't think business will rebound until next spring."

At MarineMax, sales at stores open at least one year fell 27 percent in the quarter ended June 30. That's compared with a year-ago quarter when sales were down 9 percent. MarineMax has not turned a profit in three quarters.

The $113-million loss, equal to $6.15 a share, compared with net income of $14-million, or 73 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue was $271-million, down from $380-million.

MarineMax shares, which hit $15.80 in January, closed Thursday at $6.58, down 17 cents. The company trimmed its expenses by 19 percent and will cut its inventory of 2009 boat models this fall by 40 percent.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

$113M

MarineMax's fiscal third-quarter loss

$271M

Revenue for the quarter, down

from $380-million a year ago

$130M

The value of MarineMax on the stock market. Its net worth on the books

is $257-million

Clearwater's MarineMax posts $113-million loss 07/31/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 2, 2008 7:48pm]

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