Tuesday's stock-rattling news that Thor Industries (NYSE:THO) was conducting an internal investigation into accounting issues at one of its units is not the reason its investors might want to double-up on their research into the RV maker.
I had been hearing chatter on Thor weeks ago -- none of it related to accounting improprieties. Instead (and sorry I didn't report about it earlier), it was about the company's inability to get its story straight, which in retrospect might raise concerns over internal controls at this RV rollup.
More specifically, on January 11 Thor issued a press release saying that its total retail motor home sales (which account for just 19% of revenues) had jumped by 23%, according to Statistical Surveys. (Thor's stock leaped 9% on the news.) Funny, but on December 6 the company said November retail sales of its motor homes were up a mere 9%. It didn't cite a source.
Why the discrepancy? I couldn't get anybody from the company to return my call. I also haven't yet heard back from director Coleman Davis, who sold around 150,000 shares for nearly $7 million on the same day the stock jumped on what appeared to be unusually strong sales data.
But listen up: Even before the discrepancy appeared there were other red flags flying over Thor, most notably a shrinking backlog, which historically results in slowdowns in the subsequent quarters. Bears are betting an earnings disappointment at the company, which doesn't offer guidance, is on tap. If so, the stock's 11% slide in recent weeks (with most of it occurring Tuesday) could be just a preview.
THO 1-yr chart: