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Garmin Is Tapping Into Post-Pandemic Trends. Could That Make You Rich?

By Howard Smith - Mar 15, 2021 at 7:06AM

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Sales of its outdoor activity products are accelerating with the growing popularity of boating and camping.

Now that 2020 is in the rearview mirror and an end to the pandemic looks to be in reach, investors can assess whether, and how, changes brought on by the crisis will evolve from here. Consumer behavior was driven by necessity last year, but some trends look to be taking hold for the foreseeable future. 

Outdoor recreation thrived during the pandemic as closed gyms and social distancing drove people to activities like boating, biking, and hiking. One consumer company servicing related demand is outdoor activity device maker Garmin (GRMN -0.13%). After a dip in sales during the second quarter of 2020, growth has accelerated beyond pre-pandemic levels, with no end in sight. 

Garmin RV GPS navigator

Garmin RV GPS navigator. Image source: Garmin.

Capitalizing on new trends

It's no secret how sales in Garmin's outdoor and marine segments grew 40% and 48%, respectively, in the fourth quarter, compared to the prior-year period. Makers of recreational vehicles (RVs) and boats have been reporting strong sales, low inventory levels, and growing backlogs since the heart of the pandemic. People have been increasingly attracted to camping vacations and getting out on the water as ways to get out of the house in a safe, and socially distanced, way. 

Garmin's devices had already been popular with the outdoor enthusiast, and now the company is tapping into these trends with new products. Its new RV GPS Navigator is the "latest and largest addition to its RV-specific GPS Navigator series," management says. And the company just announced its first products specifically for the off-road powersports market. 

The new Tread GPS helps ATV and snowmobile riders navigate trails and recognizes land boundaries with mapping options. Groups of riders can use the radio to communicate on the trails, and the new PowerSwitch controls 12-volt accessories on the vehicles. An action camera captures the memories. The new powersports product lineup should add incremental sales to the already fast-growing outdoor segment. 

Signs of more to come

Recreational vehicle and boat makers expect the hot market to continue. When Thor Industries (THO -4.18%) recently reported record results for its fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31, 2021, it said order backlog was also at a record level. "We are aggressively working to meet this demand by selectively and strategically expanding production capacity at numerous plants," Thor President and CEO Bob Martin said in the earnings release, adding that younger buyers are fueling the high demand. In an interview with CNBC, he said he sees it as "a long-term opportunity for the entire industry." 

Brunswick (BC 0.75%), the maker of Mercury engines and the Boston Whaler, Sea Ray, and Bayliner boat brands, also said momentum in the business is likely to continue. When Brunswick reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results, CEO David Foulkes said "a robust marine retail environment has created improved visibility into our substantial growth opportunities for 2021."

Garmin is poised to profit from growth opportunities in both the RV and recreational boating industries. 

Multiple areas of growth

Outdoor and marine are just two of Garmin's five business segments. Even with the pandemic-related sales drop in the second quarter, overall 2020 revenue still grew double-digits after a 23% year-over-year increase in the fourth quarter. The company is also projecting 2021 revenue growth of 10%, 5%, and 5% in its fitness, aviation, and auto segments, respectively. The auto segment has been a drag on sales growth for years, but investments in original equipment manufacturer programs are starting to pay off, turning it into another growth area. 

Overall, the company expects about 10% revenue growth in 2021, extending the performance trend seen over the past five years

GRMN Revenue (TTM) Chart

GRMN Revenue (TTM) data by YCharts

Get rich slowly

Investing in Garmin probably won't make you rich tomorrow. Building wealth over time, however, should be the goal of investing. The company ended 2020 with cash and marketable securities of approximately $2.98 billion, making its dividend growth history likely to continue. Its payout currently yields almost 2%. 

The company should continue innovating and enjoying the benefits of its currently popular product niches. Being in a good position to grow along with post-pandemic consumer trends makes owning Garmin stock an investment that can make you rich over time. 

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Stocks Mentioned

Garmin Ltd. Stock Quote
Garmin Ltd.
$100.65 (-0.13%) $0.13
Thor Industries, Inc. Stock Quote
Thor Industries, Inc.
$69.42 (-4.18%) $-3.03
Brunswick Corporation Stock Quote
Brunswick Corporation
$71.15 (0.75%) $0.53

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