My recent article about MarineMax (NYSE: HZO) cautioned investors that the company was a speculative buy, because the company's turnaround could still sputter out. Indeed, the company's fourth quarter found the boat seller simultaneously sailing while still bailing water.

On the positive side, revenue reached $124.4 million, a sequential quarterly increase. On the negative side, that same revenue sank 40% year over year. On the conference call, CEO Bill McGill explained, "We keep hearing from prospective buyers that they are hesitant to make a major purchase until they gain more confidence that the economy is improving." The company still lost $1.8 million in the quarter, but that was much better than the $33 million loss a year ago.

That says it all. The difficulty of being a luxury retailer is that when the economy tanks, so does your business. There is a silver lining to the storm clouds, however. As part of the company's turnaround plan to focus on higher-margin aspects of the business, gross margins were 24.2%, compared to 6.1% last year. And while many customers are holding off making those big boat purchases, a few hardy seafolk took the plunge anyway.

There are other hopeful signs. MarineMax's promotional events have been filled to capacity, suggesting plenty of interested boaters who will likely become future customers. The company also kept a lid on operating expenses, cutting them by nearly one-third to $31.4 million year over year.

I think it's only a matter of time before MarineMax enjoys some tailwinds again. The broader luxury category has seen a sharp rebound, and that will slowly work its way up to higher-priced items such as boats. With quarterly earnings up 19% at luxury retailers like Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF), and September same-store sales up 8.1% at Saks (NYSE: SKS), and 3.4% at Nordstrom (NYSE: JWM), MarineMax may simply need to wait for clear indications that the recovery is here to stay.

After that, it should be ... OK, I'll say it ... smooth sailing.

Matthew Brown does not own shares of any company mentioned. 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.