UPDATE 1-Winnebago to raise output after strong demand boosts 1st-qtr

Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:06pm EST

Dec 20 (Reuters) - Winnebago Industries Inc, the largest U.S. motor home maker, said it plans to increase its production in the current quarter to meet the high demand that also helped it report stronger-than-expected first-quarter results.

Shares of the company were up 13 percent at $15.95 at noon on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. The stock rose to a year-high of $16.22 earlier.

The company said its motorhome order backlog had more than tripled from a year earlier to 2,118 units as of Dec. 1.

"We have continued to increase our production schedule and have hired additional employees to meet this improved demand during the last two fiscal quarters," Chief Executive Randy Potts said in a statement on Thursday.

Order backlog, which the company defines as orders to be shipped within the next six months, grew for both low- and high-end products, Potts said on a conference call.

Growth in motorhome revenue was on strong demand for the company's new entry-level Class A gasoline offerings, Chief Financial Officer Sarah Nielsen said during the call.

The company's Class A models are conventional motor homes constructed directly on medium- and heavy-duty truck chassis.

Winnebago introduced low-priced models after the recession reduced demand for higher-end motorhomes costing up to $350,000.

Net income rose to $7.4 million, or 26 cents per share, from $1 million, or 4 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 47 percent to $193.6 million. ()

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 10 cents per share on revenue of $155.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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