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Polaris Industries, Inc. Delivers a Solid Quarter

By Steve Symington - Apr 21, 2016 at 6:02PM

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The powersports company saw encouraging industry trends to start 2016.

Polaris' 2016 Indian Motorcycle line drove North American sales higher in Q1. IMAGE SOURCE: POLARIS INDUSTRIES.

With last quarter's weakness and a cautious outlook still fresh on investors' minds, Polaris Industries (PII 2.95%) saw a muted positive reaction to its first-quarter 2016 results Thursday. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Let's take a closer look at how Polaris kicked off the year.

Polaris Industries results: The raw numbers


Q1 2016 Actuals

Q1 2015 Actuals

Growth (YOY)


 $983 million

 $1033.3 million


Net Income

 $46.9 million

 $88.6 million


Earnings per share





What happened with Polaris this quarter?

  • These results were in line with Polaris' expectations -- three months ago, CFO Mike Speetzen told investors to expect "about half of the earnings reported in the first quarter of 2015."
  • For perspective -- and keeping in mind Q1 is generally Polaris' lowest quarter in terms of sales and earnings -- Speetzen also noted at the time that "minor adjustments in volume are quickly magnified at the bottom line."
  • International sales climbed 6% year over year, to $162.6 million, and would have risen 12% had it not been for the negative effects of foreign exchange.
  • North American retail sales rose 6% year over year
  • Off-road vehicle (ORV)/snowmobiles segment revenue fell 9.5% year over year, to $720.6 million.
    • Within that, ORV sales fell 12%, hurt by softness in North American oil markets and difficult year-over-year comparisons.
    • Snowmobile sales climbed 2%, driven by the acquisition of Timbersled in last year's second quarter.
    • ORV/snowmobile combined parts, garments and accessories revenue rose 2% year over year.
  • Motorcycle segment revenue climbed 18% year over year, to $188.2 million, driven by a 50% increase in Indian Motorcycle sales.
  • Global adjacent markets (including government/military and work and transportation) fell 5% year over year, to $74.1 million.
    • Work and transportation wholegood sales climbed in the low-single-digit percent range thanks to strength at Aixam.
    • Defense revenue fell "significantly" as the U.S. military budget spending patterns caused orders to be into the future.
  • Operating expenses climbed 20% year over year, to $189.9 million, or 19.3% of total revenue, up from 15.3% of total revenue this time last year. That increase was driven primarily by higher research and development expenses (up 10.9% to $43.1 million), higher selling and marketing expenses to drive brand awareness (up 10.8% to $77.2 million), and higher general and administrative expenses due to increases in product liability, severance, and acquisition-related costs (up 40.5% to $69.6 million).

What management had to say 
Polaris CEO Scott Wine added:

Our Customer Excellence initiatives and new products drove a six percent increase in North American retail, and in conjunction with shipment reductions, better demand forecasting, and process control improvements, enabled us to continue reducing dealer inventory levels year over year. During the quarter, we improved shipment lead-times, met retail demand from our Spirit Lake motorcycle facility, and completed the acquisition of Taylor-Dunn. I still believe 2016 is likely to be another volatile year in powersports, but we are seeing pockets of strength. The North American ORV industry was up in the first quarter, with March experiencing the strongest improvement

Looking forward 
Though the industry appeared to be enjoying relative strength toward the end of the quarter, Polaris is choosing to continue with its conservative approach by reiterating guidance for the year. As a reminder, that guidance calls for 2016 revenue to be in the range of down 2% to up 3% year over year -- or roughly $4.62 billion to $4.86 billion -- and net income per share of $6.20 to $6.80. Given what management describes as "persistent unpredictability" surrounding both economic trends and the powersports industry of late, I think Polaris investors should be more than happy with these results.

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