POLARIS WILL HOLD ITS annual dealer meeting this month. Some prep notes for dealers:
- 2007 sales totaled $1.78 billion, up 7 percent from 2006. The OEM expects sales to grow 5 to 7 percent this year, fueled mainly from side-by-side ATVs and international business. (It ended its second quarter June 30, after this issue went to press).
- An ongoing reduction in wholesale ATV shipments has reduced earlier inventories of non-current models.
- A strong snowfall during the 2007-08 winter season helped reduce dealers' snowmobile inventories to their lowest levels in 10 years.
- Outgoing CEO Tom Tiller says the company is "well-positioned to weather the economic storm." Anticipated market share gains in ATVs and snowmobiles, along with more operational efficiencies, "will result in further core ATV inventory reductions and company-wide improvements in quality, costs and speed," he says. ATVs are responsible for about 65 percent of Polaris's total sales.
- Tiller adds that company growth should occur in the Ranger SxS vehicle area, international operations and military sales.
- The OEM just won an intellectual property rights suit it had filed against Jerrico and CSK for importing and selling ATVs that infringe on a Polaris patent. Jerrico is no longer in business.
- Full-year 2007 Victory motorcycle sales to dealers grew less than 1 percent over 2006 numbers, due to the slowing cruiser sector. Polaris still considers the Victory business to be a "signficant long-term growth opportunity." Tiller acknowledges dealer concerns over the slowdown in cruiser sales, and that Victory "will be more cautious about the cruiser part of our business as we chase the touring segment."
- Victory unveiled 2009 model-year motorcycles at a press-only event in late June in Southern California, on the condition that the information would not be released until the dealer meeting in late July. Look for Victory model updates on www.dealernews.com starting July 23.