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Thor Industries Inc. has already has almost reached the high price predicted by BB&T Capital Markets for fiscal year 2006, the Dayton Daily News reports.
With more than 8,400 employees, Thor is coming off the best fiscal quarter in its history, having earned $43.3 million and 77 cents per share — beating Wall Street’s estimate by 5 cents — for the period ended Oct. 31. Following that performance, BB&T Capital raised is expectations for Thor’s stock from $2.52 to $2.59, and its price prediction for 2006 from $38 to $45. Thor’s shares traded at $40.97 Monday (Jan. 18), not far from its past-year high of $43.46.
Thor Industries Inc. has become a pillar of the recreational vehicle industry by buying other companies and expanding its network of dealers. The Jackson Center, Ohio-based company was founded in 1980 when businessmen Wade F.B. Thompson and Peter B. Orthwein bought the Airstream brand of travel  trailers and combined the first two letters of their last names to name the new company. Thor has since bought competitors including General Coach, Dutchmen, Four Winds International, Komfort, Skamper, Keystone RV, Damon RV and Crossroads RV.
“If you look at the company’s track record, it’s hard to argue with,” Ed Aaron, an RBC Capital Markets analyst in Denver, told the Dayton newspaper. “Over the last decade, they’ve been consistently the fastest-growing RV manufacturer.”
Beyond acquiring other companies, Thor has gained market share with good products and distribution, Aaron said. The company announced in December that it had increased its North American network with the addition of 355 dealers, compared with 275 new dealers added the prior year.
Thor said its retail RV sales totaled 87,349 units for the first 11 months of 2005, up 14% from the same period in 2004. Thor’s order backlog at the end of October stood at a company-record $473 million, which Thompson said bodes well for his company’s prospects in 2006.
Winnebago Industries, Fleetwood Enterprises and Coachmen Industries are Thor’s biggest competitors in an industry that had $14 billion in sales for 2004, the latest full year available.
Aaron said he considers Thor the industry leader in the category of towable RVs. Although he praised both Thor and Winnebago, he said he isn’t recommending RV stocks now because rising interest rates and high gasoline prices could cool consumers’ buying passions.