Brunswick (NYSE:BC) is seeing near-term turbulence in its core boating operations. The downturn could last through this year, but keep an eye on the stock. The company, after all, is the market leader in a number of other businesses.

After a difficult 2006 that saw total sales advance by an anemic 1% and operating earnings fall 29%, management expects 2007 to be another tough period for selling boats and marine engines. Right now, it is projecting flat overall sales for the next 12 months, and 2007 earnings guidance calls for $1.65 to $2 per share, which at best (if it hits the high end of the range) would represent a double-digit decrease in operating earnings from 2006.

Operating cash flow fell more than 27% year over year, but at least the full-year number exceeded reported net income by more than 20%, which speaks volumes about Brunswick's cash flow-generating capabilities. The fitness segment accounts for only about 10% of total sales but saw top-line growth of 8% and 3% growth in operating earnings. The bowling and billiards segment accounts for 8% of total sales and also struggled, seeing a 1% fall in sales for the year and a 41% drop in operating earnings. Both non-primary segments hold leading positions in their respective markets.

So where do investors go from here? I didn't see anything to jump up and down about, but the market apparently did and sent the shares up as much as 6%. Perhaps it was happy to see any clarity on just how difficult the boating business is currently; management believes 2007 could turn out as bad as 2000 and sees the adverse industry environment in the third inning of a nine-inning ballgame, meaning it will be some time before industry conditions recover.

Brunswick has a low debt-to-capitalization ratio at less than 30%, and so it can easily weather a protracted downturn in its primary boating and marine businesses. It also tends to grow through acquisitions and could use any turbulence to buy competitors on the cheap. The only other publicly traded boat manufacturer out there is Marine Products (NYSE:MPX), while MarineMax (NYSE:HZO) is a major customer as the largest boating dealer. And if Brunswick cares to, it could paddle its way to calmer waters and take a look at canoe manufacturer Johnson Outdoors (NASDAQ:JOUT).

Still, I see nothing to get very excited about at this point in time.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.