Coronavirus: Demand for these $300,000-plus boats skyrockets amid pandemic recovery

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·2 min read

If there is a bruising recession in the U.S. and nearly 30 million unemployed because of a pandemic, it’s sure not showing up on the top line of high-end boat maker MasterCraft (MCFT).

“The bounce-back from the slowdown, COVID induced shutdowns has been phenomenal,” MasterCraft CEO Fred Brightbill told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. MasterCraft sells everything from entry-level $30,000 boats to the ultra high-end Aviara line that could fetch more than $300,000. Similar to what Yahoo Finance learned from Polaris CFO Mike Sheetzen on Tuesday (Polaris (PII) owns the Bennington, Godfrey and Hurricane boat brands), demand for socially-distant outdoor activities appears to be fueling boat purchases this summer.

Brightbill says demand in recent months have been broad-based throughout the portfolio. The company has begun bringing workers back to the production line to service the strong uptick.

A Mastercraft X30 boat is displayed at the Sydney International Boat Show on August 2, 2012. Set in Sydney's Darling Harbour and running from August 2-6, the show is well known internationally for its vast array of boats, boating gear and all the services associated with the boating lifestyle. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD        (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/GettyImages)
A Mastercraft X30 boat is displayed at the Sydney International Boat Show on August 2, 2012. Set in Sydney's Darling Harbour and running from August 2-6, the show is well known internationally for its vast array of boats, boating gear and all the services associated with the boating lifestyle. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/GettyImages)

“Our business started taking a downturn in March. We expected the worst, planned for that, and we are very much surprised to the upside. Business strengthened in April, strengthened continually in May, and was record-setting in June and continues into July,” adds Brightbill.

Shares of MasterCraft rose slightly Wednesday morning. The stock is up a cool 34% year-to-date, out-performing the S&P 500’s 3% gain. MasterCraft is tentatively scheduled to release its latest earnings report in September.

It may not be solely Polaris and MasterCraft seeing a tailwind in the business of boats.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) said boat sales surged 59% in May versus April, the last month for which data has been released. NMMA data showed sales had increased 9% from pre-pandemic levels in May. Sales marked the highest level in a decade, with gains noted across all boat segments.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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