After ending its fiscal year on another sour note, Arctic Cat Inc. is banking on new products and other company investments to launch its comeback in the year ahead as it continues to try to find its foothold in a challenging power sports market.
On Thursday, the Plymouth-based company reported a net loss of $16.9 million, or $1.30 per share, in its fiscal 2016 fourth quarter. The dip was less than the prior-year quarter when Arctic Cat reported a net loss of $21.5 million, but it still failed to meet Wall Street expectations of 87 cents.
For the full fiscal year, which ended March 31, Arctic Cat had a net loss of $9.2 million, or 71 cents per share, on net sales of $632.9 million.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s three big things that we don’t have any control over. The weather, the economy and currency has really masked a lot of the good things that are happening,” said CEO Christopher Metz, during a conference call with analysts.
Low snowfall continued to be an issue for the snowmobile and ATV maker as well as unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates and softer power sports demand.
The company wasn’t alone in its struggles. Last month, local rival Polaris Industries announced declining profits for its second consecutive quarter as a result of dipping demand for off-road vehicles and product recalls.
Despite hurdles, Arctic Cat posted fourth-quarter net sales of $121.4 million, up more than 22 percent from prior-year sales of $98.9 million.
The company remains optimistic that it will rebound and set the stage for long-term growth, mostly in the second half of fiscal year 2017 and with the help of new product launches. The company expects fiscal 2017 full-year net earnings to range from a loss of 39 cents per share to a profit of 8 cents a share.
In the first half of fiscal year 2017, Arctic Cat hopes to improve dealer inventory.
The move is necessary according to a report by Baird analyst Craig Kennison, which said recent dealer checks by his firm “revealed a frustrated dealer network unhappy with inventory trends.”
During Thursday’s conference call, Metz fielded questions from analysts about his confidence in the company’s ability to reposition itself. Metz, who has been on the job for 18 months, has said he envisions the company reaching $1.15 billion in sales by 2020.
“In fairness, we probably lost a year, and we’re about a year behind in hitting that,” he said on the call. “So we still think it’s feasible. It’ll probably be a little bit longer now.”
Not everyone was so convinced. Jaime Katz, an analyst for Morningstar Equity Research, said in a note the 2020 goal “is now even more out of touch than it was last year and implies growth that would likely be achievable only through massive product introductions and bolt-on acquisitions, or a tremendous upswing in consumer discretionary spending.”
However, Katz also said, Arctic Cat is “genuinely trying to restore faith in the business.” She pointed to positive signs such as the company bringing in new leadership, the relocation of its headquarters to Minneapolis by the end of the summer and a brand awareness push that has included a partnership with racer Robby Gordon.
Arctic Cat’s stock closed on Thursday closed at $13.53, down $1.14 or about 7.8 percent.