Thor Shares Rise on Strong RV Sales

Investors bid up shares of RV giant Thor industries after the company beats expectations.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Thor Industries (THO) - Get Report shares were cruising Wednesday afternoon like a Four Winds Hurricane Class A doing 70 mph on Interstate 40 westbound out of Amarillo.

The world's largest maker of recreational vehicles -- including Four Winds, Airstream, Dutchman and Damon brands, among others -- posted a fourth-quarter profit after the close of trading Tuesday that exceeded Wall Street expectations by a wide margin.

Thor, based in Jackson Center, Ohio, said it earned $40.1 million, or 78 cents a share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended July 31. That compares with the consensus target among Wall Street analysts of 63 cents a share. Revenue came to $664 million, in line with estimates. The company appears to have rebounded from an abysmal 2009, showing 64% year-over-year growth on the bottom line and 51% growth on the top.

RVs are the reason, and if selling rolling vacation houses is any indication, the economy could be on the right track. Thor, which also builds commercial buses, said sales in its RV segment rose 67% year-over-year to $564 million. Bus sales, meanwhile, a troubled segment for the company, were basically flat for the fourth quarter at $100 million.

Thor has exploited depressed asset values to go after strategic growth. Last week, the company announced a deal to buy Heartland RV, a maker of trailer-style motor homes in Elkhart, Indiana, for $210 million. That deal, said Thor Chairman Peter Orthwein in a press release, "coupled with our strong cash position and no outstanding debt, will help fuel additional growth and shareholder value in 2011 and beyond."

In late-afternoon trading Wednesday, Thor shares were gaining 13.6% to $32.93, on volume of 1.5 million shares, more than triple the daily average turnover in the name. The stock has come back from the depths of 2009, when it traded below $11, its lowest point since 2002. That compares to 2006, when, in the midst of the boom years, Thor stock traded at all-time highs above $50.

Shares of Thor archrival

Winnebago

(WGO) - Get Report

were changing hands at $10.79 Wednesday, up 1.8%.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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