Winnebago profits, but is still cautious

A Winnebago logo decorates the side of a Sightseer motor home offered for sale at the Camp-Land RV dealership in Burns Harbor, Ind.

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Kai Ryssdal: RV's, that is recreational vehicles, can be a pretty good indicator of a coming recession. They are expensive. They are decidedly not a necessity. And, in fact, the RV business was beat up pretty good during the past couple of years. Today, though, some better news. Winnebago posted its first quarterly profits in more than a year, as Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports.


ALISA ROTH: Winnebago is selling more RVs. But not to consumers.

Dave Whiston follows Winnebago at Morningstar. He says most of the buyers are dealers.

DAVE WHISTON: So the challenge now is, now that the dealers have ordered the product, will consumers walk into a dealer showroom and buy?

Whiston says a lot of people put off buying the vehicles when the economy was bad. Now dealers are betting demand will pick up as the economy keeps getting better.

WHISTON: You're seeing more people willing to go ahead and take the plunge. Frankly if you're retired, you can't wait forever to buy that RV.

And increasingly "that RV" means a Winnebago.

Kathryn Thompson follows the company for Thompson Research. It's an equity research firm. She says in a way, the recession actually helped Winnebago.

KATHRYN THOMPSON: You've had some major competitors either go out of business, file for bankruptcy...

That means a lot less competition for Winnebago. The company's hired back some workers and upped production to meet the new demand.

But it's still not expecting a smooth ride. The CEO said "the economic outlook remains uncertain."

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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