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Sales Soar at Camping World Holdings

By Dan Caplinger - Feb 28, 2018 at 8:44AM

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Find out how the RV retailer managed to finish 2017 so strong.

Nearly half a century after their initial heyday, recreational vehicles are back in vogue, and retailer Camping World Holdings (CWH 4.11%) wants to give customers as much support as they need to commit completely to the RV lifestyle. With retail locations that go beyond simply selling products to provide a focal point for social networks surround recreational vehicles, Camping World wants not only to make the most of the trend toward RVs but also to become an increasingly holistic outdoors-oriented business.

Coming into Tuesday's fourth-quarter financial report, Camping World investors were expecting the company's strong revenue and profit growth to continue. Yet Camping World's results once again eclipsed even the most optimistic of expectations, and the company remains positive about its future in the year to come. Let's look more closely at Camping World Holdings and what its latest results say about where the business is headed.

Camping World retail location as seen from empty parking lot in front of store.

Image source: Camping World Holdings.

Pitch a tent for Camping World

Camping World Holdings' fourth-quarter results closed a phenomenal year. Revenue soared 33% to $889 million, blowing away expected growth rates of just 20%. Adjusted pro forma net income more than doubled to $22 million, and the resulting adjusted earnings of $0.25 per share was well ahead of the $0.22 per share that most of those following the stock had anticipated seeing.

Tax reform did have a one-time negative impact on Camping World Holdings. The new laws forced the company to take a $165.4 million in tax-related charges, stemming from the revaluation of deferred tax assets after corporate tax rates fell from 35% to 21%. Going forward, though, the lower rates should help Camping World.

Fundamentally, Camping World did extremely well. Same-store sales growth accelerated to 11.9% as new vehicle sales jumped 18.6% on a comparable basis. Relatively weaker performance in the used vehicle sales area once again held the company back, but Camping World saw a lot of interest in finance and insurance products. Unit sales of new recreational vehicles jumped by half to more than 12,000 units, although average selling prices for those new RVs fell 8% to around $38,200. Used RV sales were up 15% to about 6,100 units, although prices there decreased 5% to fall below the $23,000 mark.

CEO Marcus Lemonis was happy with how things went. "Demand for towable and smaller recreational vehicles remained strong throughout 2017," Lemonis said, "and we made the strategic decision to carry a little more inventory in order to drive volumes and gain market share in the final months of the year." The CEO said that Camping World's strategic bet paid off with record revenue.

Can Camping World keep growing?

Camping World sees good times continuing. As Lemonis put it, "The trends that we have been talking about for the past year remain strong and continue to drive our business."

Camping World is putting a lot of effort into expanding its base to pull in a broader outdoor audience. With new businesses that include Gander Outdoors, Overton's, Uncle Dan's W82, Erehwon, and, Camping World hopes to brand itself as an outdoor and active sports lifestyle conglomerate, appealing to a broader audience and building a positive network effect that could help all of its component divisions. The 13 locations under those other names should help complement the 140 Camping World retail locations that have catered more specifically to RV enthusiasts.

Camping World investors seemed to like the news as well, and the stock picked up 3% in after-hours trading following the announcement. Having finished 2017 on a positive note, Camping World Holdings is more excited than ever that it can keep its positive momentum rolling forward into 2018 and beyond.

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