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Why Polaris Industries Inc. Stock Plunged Today

By Steve Symington - Dec 17, 2015 at 1:55PM

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Polaris reduced guidance amid a challenging retail environment. Here's what investors need to know.

What: Shares of Polaris Industries (PII 0.43%) were down 9.6% as of 12:50 p.m. EST Thursday after the off-road vehicle specialist reduced its full-year 2015 sales and earnings guidance.

So what: Specifically, Polaris now expects 2015 revenue to grow in the range of 4% to 5% over 2014, compared to previous guidance for year-over-year growth of 10% to 11%. Full-year earnings per share are also expected to be up 1% to 2% over 2014, compared to previous guidance for growth of 11% to 12%. To blame, Polaris says, is the weaker-than-expected retail environment in North American for its Off-Road Vehicles and Snowmobiles segments. And this weakness, in turn, has also negatively affected Polaris' parts, garments, and accessories sales.

Polaris CEO Scott Wine elaborated, "In our third quarter earnings call, I talked about slower near-term growth for the powersports industry and what it signified for our performance. We expected the fourth quarter to present a challenging retail environment for ORVs and Snowmobiles, but consumer traffic and retail sales have slowed beyond previous expectations."

Now what: To its credit, that means Polaris isn't necessarily to blame. The softness in the North American ORV industry is broad-based, and Polaris noted snowmobile industry sales are down in the mid-teen percentage range so far this season due to unusually warm weather patterns in the U.S. Snowbelt. Nonetheless, Polaris is immediately reducing Q4 off-road vehicle shipments accordingly, and now expects off-road vehicle dealer inventory to be below 2014 levels by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Snowmobile inventory is expected to be higher on a year-over-year basis, mainly as dealers began to build inventory ahead of the winter selling season last quarter.

In the end, though, investors should applaud Polaris for biting this bullet and taking action to position itself well, with leaner dealer inventories for its core ORV segment headed into 2016. While this industry weakness certainly isn't ideal, Polaris remains solidly profitable and I'm convinced the company should be able to continue creating shareholder value over the long term.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Polaris Industries. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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