Thor Industries Inc.’s earnings declined 20% during the three months ended Oct. 31, but Chairman Wade F.B. Thompson sees “very positive indicators for 2002.”

The amount of dealer orders received by Thor and its recently acquired Keystone subsidiary during the RV industry’s National Trade Show in Louisville last week were among of the positive indicators cited by Thompson.

The other positive factors were low fuel prices and interest rates.

During the first quarter of Thor’s fiscal year 2002, which ended Oct. 31, Thor earned $6.7 million, compared with $8.4 million earned during the same period a year earlier.

The RV and bus manufacturer’s first fiscal quarter sales were flat at $209.8 million. Its RV sales declined 8% to $128.1 million during the August-through-October period.

The Keystone acquisition was not completed until the middle of last month, so Keystone’s results were not included in Thor’s first fiscal quarter financial report.

The negative impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the market accounted for the first fiscal quarter declines, Thompson said.

During the Louisville show, Thor, including Keystone, added 190 new dealers and it received $75 million in orders. Excluding Keystone, Thor’s order volume was up 28% and its dealer body expanded by 12% when compared with last year’s Louisville show, Thompson said.