HARDI distributor sales forecast for a strong 2012
Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (/HARDI) announced North American HVACR average distributor sales for February 2012 were up 9.6%. HARDI’s Monthly Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distribution Strategies (TRENDS) Report showed growth in all seven U.S. regions; three in double-digits. Canadian distributors had one of their better months in some time after a slight decline in January but not enough to keep its annual growth rate in positive territory. U.S.-only distributor sales were up 9.7% for the month.
“Inventories are still elevated,” said HARDI economist, Andrew Duguay. “Just over two-thirds of distributors reported higher inventories than last year. This is likely causing the sharp contrast with HVACR New Orders from Census Bureau data and the less-than-stellar shipment numbers recently reported by AHRI.”
Duguay also commented, “It is promising to see the 12/12 establishing a low point in the 2 - 3% annual growth range. This is the third consecutive month of annual sales growth of just under 3%. Momentum from the 1/12 suggests we could be seeing rise from the 12/12 trend as early as next month.”
Days Sales Outstanding (a measure of how quickly customers pay their bills) crept up for the sixth time in seven months, increasing to nearly 52 days. Distributor productivity reflected by sales per employee backtracked for the seventh consecutive month down another 6% from last month and nearly 40% from its July 2011 peak.
“Our economists’ bullish forecasts for 2012 are off to a great start thus far and serving as another reminder that shipment data is not the best leading indicator for industry sales,” said HARDI Executive Vice President and C.O.O. Talbot Gee. “Discussions with distributors across the U.S. are carrying a consistent theme of aggressive inventory positions so that no sales are lost as the market continues to strengthen this year.”
“Interestingly, distributors’ unitary sales - ducted and ductless units alike - are trending almost exactly opposite of AHRI shipments and kicking off 2012 with impressive growth versus a disappointing Q1 2011.”
HARDI’s 2012 HVACR Market and Unitary Forecast is now available to member and non-member companies with details at www.hardinet.org/2012forecast.