Highlights from the Polaris Earnings Call – Q1 2013

The following are the highlights of the Polaris earnings call for their first quarter 2013 earnings report as it relates to the STOV market.

  • Total sales for the first quarter increased 11% to a record $754.9 million
  • First quarter net income increased 26% to $75.5 million
  • Gross profit margins were up a modest 10 basis points to 29%
  • Full year sales expected to be up 12% to 15% over 2012.
  • Polaris’ first quarter Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) revenue increased 7% driven by side-by-side sales.
  • In the first quarter consumer demand for the RANGER 900XP outpaced all other ORVs in the industry.
  • Polaris gained market share in both ATVs and side-by-sides.
  • ATVs down low single digits and for industry as well
  • Polaris side-by-side retail grew mid-single digits in an industry estimated to grow low single digits.
  • The new RZR XP 900 Jagged X has been a hit with consumers
  • Major strategic initiatives included launch of Brutus commercial line, acquisition of Aixam and start of plant construction in Poland
  • Brutus line will be sold through dedicated new Polaris commercial channel that already includes 400 dealers
  • Initial orders for both the Brutus product and the attachment have been better than are than expected.
  • Small vehicle business consisting of GEM and Goupil grew double digits
  • GEM and Goupil both had good quarters, as GEM retail more than doubled in its best first quarter since 2008, while Goupil retail orders were up about 20%, significantly outperforming the European economy.

Looking Forward

  • Sales of Off-Road Vehicles are expected to increase in the 8% to 10% range, with retail sales of side-by-side vehicles and ATVs outpacing the overall market in North America and internationally.
  • Management expects to increase ORV market share in 2013 although at a more moderate rate than the past 3 years.
  • Management optimistic about new model introductions for model year 2014
  • Poland facility to be online in the 2nd half 2014 mainly for producing ATVs for the European market with some side-by-side capability as well.
  • Management expects to realize sourcing and engineering synergies between Goupil, Aixam and Gem
  • Goal is to decrease the delivery time of for side-by-side products to dealers from 6 weeks down to 4 weeks

Learn more:  Seekingalpha.com (earnings call transcript)

Polaris Reports Another Strong Quarter

Ranger XP 900 helped drive Polaris sales in Q1 2013

Polaris reported strong financial results for the first quarter of 2013. Management reported sales of $745.9 million and net income of $75.5 which were 11% and 26% higher than the prior year’s first quarter, respectively. A major contributor to the record earnings was a better winter for the snowmobile business compared to the previous winter.  The off-road division, which includes side-by-sides, increased revenue by 7% compared to the Q1 2012 on the strength of new products and mid-size utility vehicles like the Ranger XP 900. Management also raised their full year projections, forecasting an increase of 15 to 18 percent from 2012 earnings and sales for the year to grow around 12 to 15 percent, up from its previously projected increase of 7 to 10 percent. Learn more:  TCBmag.com

LSV Manufacturer GreenTech Automotive to Make Highway Capable EV

GreenTech Automotive plans to produce a highway capable electric sedan

GreenTech Automotive (GTA), the Virginia-based manufacturer of the MyCar LSV, is partnering with China-based JAC to build a 5-person electric powered sedan. JAC’s Rejoice platform will be used for the vehicle which will likely feature a 19 Kwh lithium battery power source and have a range of over 100 miles. According to executives they have distribution agreements in place to sell 30,000 vehicles over three years. Vehicle assembly will be carried out in Mississippi at the same facility as the MyCar with a dedicated new facility for the sedan in the plans. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2013. There is no information on the pricing of the vehicle.

Comment:  This is another LSV manufacturer that is trying to make the move from producing LSVs to producing highway capable EVs. None have met with any great success so far. From what we’ve seen, the sales of the MyCar has not met the hype about the company. Given the sales levels of the Nissan Leaf which is produced by a well-established company with an extensive distribution network, 30,000 units in three years for this sedan appears to be very optimistic.

Can-Am Manufacturer BRP Planning IPO

BRP, the Canadian manufacturer of powersports products including Can Am side-by-sides, ATVs and watercraft as well as Ski-Doo snowmobiles is planning an initial public offering (IPO) on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Ten years ago Bombardier sold the business lines to private investors, the largest being private equity firm Bain Capital with about a 50% stake. The remaining shareholders include the founding family run Beaudier Group with around 35% of the company and pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec with around 15%. According to the prospectus, “The three shareholder groups are staying invested in the near term and will control all of the company’s multiple-voting shares,….The offering is for subordinate voting shares, which have one vote each compared to the six votes for the multiple-voting stock.”

Originally an IPO was to be completed about five years ago but the recession put it on hold.  Now, with side-by-side market leading the way, the environment is much more favorable as evidenced by the recent stock runs of Polaris and Arctic Cat. The company plans to raise $250 million with the IPO. The funds raised will primarily be used to   payoff debt. According to company financials BRP had sales of $2.9 billion and profit of $121 million for the last fiscal year that ended on January 31, 2013. Learn more:  Financialpost.com

New Electric 4WD Motor Kit for Golf Cars from SilverWolf Motors

SilverWolf Motors 4WD motor kit for golf cars

Exploded view of motor, wheel and tire

A new aftermarket electric motor kit from SilverWolf Motors can provide 4WD capabilities to golf cars. The sealed AC motors bolt on to the front suspension and “add independent electronically differentiated Drive System to the front wheels.” The kit provides a vehicle with more climbing and pulling power.  According to company information “The 4WD can be engaged by the operator using a dash mounted switch at any time. It provides additional traction in the forward direction as required.  Once the vehicle has attained a speed of approximately 10 – 12 mph (Hare Mode) it disengages automatically and re-engages when needed.” The MSRP for the kit is $1,195 CAD. Vehicle specific adapters are sold separately. The company is currently building up their dealer distribution network.

The kit can also be added on to gas powered vehicles to create a hybrid vehicle. The increasing use of hybrids is a market trend SVR expects to see in the next few years as more OEMs are expected to offer hybrid models.  Aftermarket kits like this one will only add momentum to the trend. Hybrids have applications for parts of the hunting market that require more range and in the parks/campus segment where organizations are “greening” their fleets but current all electric vehicles may not be feasible for some of their vehicle uses at this time. A kit like this opens up a range of personal use markets served by golf car dealers that offer rebuilding and customization services of new and used golf cars.

The press release follows:

4WD Kit for Golf Cars Delivers on Power Waterloo, Ontario – April 16, 2013

SilverWolf Vehicles Inc. has introduced a Motor Kit that bolts to the front suspension of a golf car to provide 4WD performance and act as an independent drive system. Two Motorized Wheels offer Ultra-High levels of Torque without limiting the vehicles top speed. “The motors provide over 250 Nm of torque to each of the front wheels”, says company CEO, Bill Jager, “which almost doubles the pulling power and traction of a standard golf car”. The Kit bolts easily to the existing steering and suspension system and works well with both lifted and stock vehicles. The 4WD is engaged by using a dash mounted switch that controls the amount of torque provided by the motors. The Motor Kit can also be adapted to gas UTVs and other vehicles to make them true Hybrids.

Contact Information: Claudia Demandt 1-888-398-7078 ext. 712

email: info@silverwolfmotors.com



First Polaris & Bobcat Co-Developed Commercial UTVs Roll Off the Line

Bobcat & Polaris executives join workers at Milford, IA factory to celebrate the first commercial UTVs to roll off the production line.

Executives from Polaris and Bobcat made an appearance at the Milford, IA assembly plant to commemorate the first Bobcat 3600 and Bobcat 3650 and Polaris BRUTUS models to roll off the production line. The commercial UTVs are the result of a strategic alliance between the two companies to co-develop products. The alliance leverages Polaris experience in utility vehicles and the powersports market, and Bobcat’s experience in work vehicle technology and attachments. Bobcat also brings to the table extensive knowledge of commercial customers and a dealer network to reach that segment.  Learn more: SXSNews.com

Polaris Acquires Small Vehicle Manufacturer Aixam Mega

Aixam Quadricycle

Aixam Mega Utility Truck

Polaris Industries announced the acquisition of Aixam Mega, a leading manufacturer of quadricycles and light commercial vehicles based in France. The acquisition adds to the company’s portfolio of small, task-oriented vehicles which includes GEM LSVs and Goupil commercial vehicles and increases their footprint in Europe as management targets international markets for future growth. In addition, the acquisition puts Polaris in a strong position in the personal transportation segment of the small vehicle market in Europe while adding to their commercial market presence.

Quadricycles are a class of vehicles characterized by limits on vehicle weight, top speed and engine power. Light quadricycles have a top speed of 45 kph and can be driven without a license in Europe depending on the regulations of the individual country. In France they have a classification similar to mopeds. There is also a heavy quadricycle classification that requires a license to drive. Aixam Mega has annual sales of approximately $110 million.

Aixam Mega offers a diverse lineup of small vehicles covering personal transportation and commercial vehicles, light and heavy quadricycles and ICE and electric powered vehicles. Their product lines include the Aixam line of quadricycles for personal transportation and their Mega brand of light commercial trucks and vans. They recently launched a new lineup of all electric models for personal transportation. Their Mega utility vehicles feature both diesel and electric powered versions of trucks and vans.

According to company information Aixam Mega is the market leader in Europe selling approximately 10,000 to 12,000 quadricycles of the personal transportation variety annually with about half being sold in France. The company has a network of about 400 dealers throughout Europe and two production facilities in France. Their Mega brand of light commercial trucks and vans are distributed internationally including in the US through Columbia ParCar.  Learn more:  TwinCitiesBusiness

Comment:  The regulations in Europe are more favorable for on-road small personal transportation vehicles than in the US where LSV regulations and road access are more restrictive. It will be interesting to see if Polaris tries to modify and export the Aixam personal transportation line into the US as an LSV. In contrast to many of the current LSV offerings on the market which still have a golf car like styling, the Aixam offers a more traditional automobile styling.  On the other hand, the US LSV market is still largely commercial oriented and the personal transportation segment may be too small for the effort without changes to regulations allowing for higher speeds.

In the commercial segment, the Polaris network of dealers, especially those already offering GEM vehicles, provide an opportunity to expand the US distribution of the Mega commercial vans and trucks. The configurations of the Mega utility trucks are a nice complement to the GEM product offerings and I can envision dealers being able to sell both lines to a customer with a range of small vehicle needs.


Hovercraft Golf Car

Prototype Hovercraft Golf Car

Bubba Watson and his sponsor Oakley have teamed up with Neoteric Hovercraft to develop a prototype hovercraft golf car. As evidence from the picture, the vehicle can travel over water hazards as well as sand traps and fairways. According to Neoteric the hovercraft has 33 times less foot print pressure than the human foot which translates into less damage on the golf course. Learn more:  Oakley.com

What’s Cooking on the STOV

Highlighting some of the many applications for small, task-oriented vehicles:

School Safety Vehicle – Vinemont schools in Alabama purchased a Polaris UTV for safety patrols and driver education classes. For safety patrols the vehicle can access campus areas that their existing patrol cars cannot.  The UTV will also be used in their DUI related sessions of their driver education program. Students will use special goggles that simulate driving while intoxicated while attempting to navigate a set driving course under instructor supervision. Learn more:  Cullmantimes.com

Airport Patrols & Maintenance:  Lambert St. Louis International Airport purchased four electric-powered GEMs to be used in their parking operations for patrols and maintenance. The vehicles will be covering two terminal garages and four long-term lots. The GEMs replaced full-size pick-up trucks. The replacement of pickup trucks is an ongoing trend we are seeing particularly in corporate/college campuses and park settings. Learn more:  Bizjournals.com

Scotland Business Park Switches to Electric Utility Refuse Vehicle:  Hillington Park, a business park in Scotland, is replacing a diesel powered van with a new Alke ATX200E battery-powered utility truck. The vehicle will be used for refuse collection on the campus that is home to 300 companies and 6,700 workers. The new purchase also fits in with their award winning environmental management of the business park.

I thought this example demonstrated a number of aspects of the STOV market. First the STOV market is global. As the STOV market continues to grow it is likely that companies will look for export markets for their vehicles. Second a significant portion of the electric powered segment of the STOV market is driven by “green” or sustainability issues. Third displacement of ICE vehicles is a continuing trend that drives sales for STOVs. Learn more:  Fleetnews.uk.co

Analyst Points To Polaris Ranger For Stronger Polaris Q1 Sales

An analyst from BMO Capital Markets predicts stronger than expected first quarter 2013 results for Polaris in large part driven by Ranger UTV sales. While the recreational segment has been experiencing fast growth the markets served by the Ranger UTV have been overlooked to a certain degree. The analyst points to an estimated 35% share in the segment held by the various Ranger models and the relatively lower level of competition compared to the recreational segment as reasons for optimism in the expanding market. Expectations are that Ranger sales will grow by nearly 50% in quarter to quarter comparison with 2012. Despite more competition, growth is expected in the recreational segment as well.  Learn more:  Powersportsbusiness.com