Editor’s Note: Robert W. Baird & Co. issued a client newsletter to investors following the January shipments report. The following offers a summary of the results.

Shipments were mixed in January as total RV wholesale improved 5% on strength in towables despite declines in motorhome shipments. Towable results continue to outpace motorhomes as dealers appear more willing to stock up on the lower priced, faster moving models ahead of the spring selling season.

Towable shipments up 7%: Travel trailer shipments improved 10% in January, while fifth-wheel shipments were flat. Wholesale growth has slowed in December and January, following a previous two months where wholesale improved 25% — probably driven by orders from fall open houses. Dealers in general seem comfortable increasing inventory ahead of the upcoming selling season.

Thor gaining share: For Thor’s quarter ended January, industry towable shipments improved 11% and industry motorhome shipments fell 17%. Thor reported preliminary RV revenue up 15% for the quarter, implying market share gains in the offseason stocking period — probably supported by promotions offered at the manufacturer open houses in the fall.

Motorhome shipments down 11%: Class A shipments fell 9% in January, while Class C shipments dropped 13%. Motorhome weakness in the second half of 2011 (shipments down 16%), seems to have continued into 2012, as dealers are more reluctant to stock slower turning motorhome units. Through two months of Winnebago’s February quarter, industry motorhome shipments are down 16%. We model Winnebago wholesale units up 3% in the quarter. We expect Winnebago to report results March 22.

• SAAR: We calculate a seasonally adjusted annual rate of shipments. The SAAR of motorhome shipments increased to 22.1K units in January, from 18.6K units in December (24.8K units were shipped in 2011). The SAAR of towable shipments fell to 209K units in January, from 230K units in December (213K units were shipped in 2011).

This summary of a Baird research report is not intended as investment advice. To participate in Baird surveys and receive research reports, contact Craig R. Kennison, CFA, at [email protected]