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Monaco Coach Corp. reported lower first quarter earnings although it also reported its diesel engine Class A motorhome market increased during the first two months of this year.

The company’s first quarter earnings declined 60% to $5.2 million and its sales during the first three months of this year were down 11% to $211.2 million.

However, Monaco became the No. 2 producer of Class A motorhomes, in terms of retail market share, during the first two months of this year, according to John Nepute, president.

Monaco had a 17.6% share of the total Class A retail market and a 28.8% share of the diesel Class A market through February, Nepute said. In comparison, Monaco had a 25.3% share of the diesel Class A market during the first two months of 2000.

Monaco is among the manufacturers shipping model year 2002 units to dealers early this year, said Chairman Kay Toolson. Four new models with triple slideout floorplans were introduced during the Family Motor Coach Association Winter Convention in Oklahoma City earlier this month, he said. “Retail sales of these new coaches at the show reflect one of our most successful product introductions.”

The company also introduced its second Class C motorhome line, the McKenzie Rogue. Earlier, it introduced the Holiday Rambler Atlantis Class C.

During the second quarter, Monaco’s profit margins will remain under pressure due to the cost of developing new model year products along with “an ongoing climate of wholesale discounting and retail promotions,” said Marty Daley, CFO.

“We’re managing our current circumstances, balancing promotional efforts and production levels with retail demand in order to continue our market share gains, maintain our strong presence on retail dealers’ lots and realize efficiencies within our facilities,” Daley added.