September 26, 2021

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Travel Finishes First

Winnebago spends $250M for Barletta Pontoon Boats

5 min read

Winnebago Industries is spending more than $255 million to acquire a maker of premium pontoon boats, extending its portfolio of marine offerings.

Winnebago — which is based in Forest City, Iowa, but has management offices in Eden Prairie — said it has agreed to acquire Barletta Pontoon Boats, a privately held company based in Bristol, Ind.

“The acquisition of Barletta significantly expands Winnebago Industries’ presence in the strong and growing marine market by acquiring the fastest growing brand within one of the most rapidly growing boating segments,” said Winnebago Industries Chief Executive Michael Happe in a news release. “Barletta’s premium, innovative pontoon boats are a natural fit with our broader brand portfolio, with shared appeal among families looking to create great experiences and memories on land or on water.”

Barletta had annual revenue of $120.6 million in 2020 and profits of $10.5 million. The company expects to double profits this year, with revenue at about $214.6 million. It has 300 employees and a network of 125 dealers across the United States.

The company was founded when Bill Fenech, a veteran of the RV industry, saw an opportunity when a local factory went up for sale.

The boats range in size with a variety of layouts and premium features and are powered by four-stroke outboard engines as big as 450 HP.

In June 2018 Winnebago purchased premium powerboat maker Chris-Craft Corp. for an undisclosed amount that got Winnebago into the marine market.

Fenech will remain with the company and lead Barletta as a distinct business unit within Winnebago. Combined with Winnebago’s Chris-Craft brand, it will form a new marine unit.

“Today is an exciting day for Barletta, as Winnebago Industries’ track record of cultivating premium outdoor lifestyle brands will allow us to further accelerate our growth, expand our offerings and gain greater share of the pontoon boat market segment,” Fenech said in the release.

Winnebago is paying $255 million in cash but milestone achievements over the rest of this year could add an additional $15 million in equity considerations. Additional milestones in 2022 and 2023 could add an additional $50 million in cash payments to the deal total.

The deal for Barletta, while bigger than Chris-Craft, is not as big as Winnebago’s September 2019 $345 million purchase of Newmar Corp., a maker of premium motorcoaches.

Winnebago’s most recent fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2020, when it reported annual revenue of $2.4 billion, up 18.6% from the previous year. But quarterly revenue has been up more than 30% in each quarter since as the pandemic has helped fuel an interest in their motorcoaches, towable recreational vehicles and travel trailers.

According to an investor presentation that quotes industry sources the overall boat market has been growing at a compound growth rate of 6.2% from 2010 to 2020, but the pontoon boat market has been growing faster at a 10.2% growth rate.

Shares of Winnebago closed Tuesday at $68.59, up 7.67% , on a good day for the stock market. Over the past 52 weeks Winnebago shares have traded between $44.33 and $87.53 per share.

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