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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 following a slight decline in January. U.S.-only distributor sales were up 9.7 percent for the month.
“Inventories are still elevated,” said Andrew Duguay, HARDI economist. “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.
“It’s promising to see the 12/12 establishing a low point in the 2-3 percent annual growth range. This is the third consecutive month of annual sales growth of just under 3 percent. Momentum from the 1/12 suggests we could be seeing a 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 percent from last month and nearly 40 percent from its July 2011 peak.
“Our economists’ bullish forecasts for 2012 are off to a great start thus far,” said Talbot Gee, executive vice president and COO, HARDI. “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 first quarter of 2011.”
For more information on HARDI’s market and unitary forecast, visit www.hardinet.org/2012forecast.
Publication date: 04/16/2012