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Dealer inventories across the marine industry are too high, according to Wells Fargo CDF President Bruce Van Wagoner. Van Wagoner told Trade Only Today in early May that the company was lowering its 2019 sales growth estimates to 1% in units and 5 percent in dollars.

Van Wagoner said last week that Wells Fargo revised the forecast and expects sales to be down 1% in units and “slightly up” in dollars. Inventory levels remain about 20% too high across the industry.

He called Brunswick Corp.’s decision last week to reduce production “responsible.”

“Most other major OEMs are also cutting back,” Van Wagoner told Trade Only Today. “They don’t really advertise the fact because they’re not publicly traded. But that’s being smart to bring inventory levels down. The numbers are too high. The dealers took on too much inventory. But they’re now being very thoughtful about what they’re ordering.”

Van Wagoner noted that MarineMax inventories are among the lowest among the U.S. dealer network. “The biggest and best dealers are performing better than the market,” he said. “It’s not surprising, since they work with the largest OEMs. A lot of mom-and-pops might be dependent on smaller OEMs.”

Van Wagoner said Wells Fargo’s models forecast that new-boat sales will continue to slow through 2019, with aluminum-boat sales falling 4 percent by year’s end, runabouts running flat with last year, towboats up 6%, and saltwater fishing boats “down a little bit.”

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