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Winnebago Industries Inc. reported increased revenue, more product orders and substantially fewer losses Thursday (Dec. 17) as the company continues efforts to pull itself out of a lousy economy.

Wall Street responded by sending the company’s stock price nearly 22% higher, up $2.39 a share, to close Thursday at $13.29 a share, according to the Des Moines Register.

“As difficult as this recession has been for Winnebago Industries and the entire RV industry, we believe the worst may be over,” said Bob Olson, Winnebago’s chairman, CEO and president.

The Forest City maker of recreational vehicles said revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2010, which ended Nov. 28, were $81 million, up 16.7% compared with $69.4 million for the same period in fiscal 2009.

Winnebago said its net loss for the quarter was $1.3 million, or 5 cents per diluted share, compared with a loss of $9.6 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, for the same period last year.

Company leaders said the sales order backlog, the list of motorhomes scheduled to be delivered within the next six months, stood at 1,521 on Nov. 28, an increase of 350% compared with last year and a 62% increase from the quarter that ended Aug. 29.

Winnebago also increased its combined market share of the two largest classes of motor homes to 19.3% at the end of November, up from 18.3% a year ago. Four competitors have market shares ranging from 5.8% to 16.7%.

However, Winnebago still faces potential shortages of chassis and other components as it attempts to ramp up production.

“We feel optimistic that we are heading in the right direction,” Olson told analysts on Thursday. “But we still have a lot of headwind in front of us.”

Olson called the increased order backlog particularly noteworthy, because it came during what’s traditionally a seasonal slow period for RV manufacturers.

Company statistics show strong increases in orders across all classes of vehicles, with the largest percentage boost in sales of Class A motor homes, the largest group of vehicles Winnebago makes.

Winnebago said it’s responded to increased demand by ramping up production during the last quarter and, for the first time in at least four decades, scheduling six workdays during a traditional two-week break during the Christmas holidays.

The company, which shed half its 3,200-person work force during 2008 and early 2009, added about 350 people during the last quarter. A spokeswoman said employment now is nearly 2,000.