In a sign of revived discretionary spending among the affluent, sales of new boats rose at MarineMax Inc., only to be dragged down by the declining sales of used craft in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
The long-suffering Clearwater recreational boat retailer, the nation's largest with 56 stores in 19 states, reported a loss of $4.7 million, or 21 cents a share. That was down from net income of $10 million, or 45 cents a share, thanks to a one-time $19 million tax benefit a year ago. Revenue dropped 8 percent from a year ago to $92 million.
Used boat sales, about three-quarters of the business, nursed most surviving retail dealers through the recession, as they were able to pick up cheap repossessions. MarineMax, however, gets its used craft from trade-ins, which must typically be resold at higher prices. But the number of cheap repossessions is drying up, a trend that favors MarineMax.
"We are very encouraged" by rising new boat sales, said Bill McGill, chairman and chief executive. "This industry may have hit bottom."