Winnebago CEO: RV demand is healthy, but rate hikes and tariffs could add pressure

  • There is still a healthy demand for recreational vehicles — but rate hikes and fallout from tariffs could wind up putting pressure on the sector, says Winnebago CEO Michael Happe.
  • The company reported better-than-expected earnings before the bell on Wednesday, sending shares higher.

There is still a healthy demand for recreational vehicles — but rate hikes and fallout from tariffs could wind up putting pressure on the sector, Winnebago CEO Michael Happe told CNBC on Wednesday.

The company reported better-than-expected earnings before the bell on Wednesday, sending shares higher. After a bounce higher at the open, Winnebago gave back some of those gains and ultimately closed up 4.57 percent.

The stock is down 40 percent year to date.

In a conference call, the company's CFO said that aluminum and steel prices, which have risen thanks to tariffs, are squeezing margins. Winnebago has had to increase prices to offset some of the cost.

Happe said material prices are just one reason for the market pressure.

"We are an industry that's had tremendous growth over the last 8 or 9 years, and we've been transitioning to a more moderate growth level in the single digits, and we've also seen some elevated dealer inventory levels," he said on "Closing Bell."

Winnebago will also keep a close watch on rising rates to see if there is any impact on demand or financing.

On top of that, "we will monitor fuel prices, the volatility of the stock market and consumer confidence," Happe said.

Those things combined, along with "some elevated pressures due to some of the material cost increases … could put some weight on this sector," he added.

However, he said right now there is still a healthy demand for the RV lifestyle.

"People are still flocking outside. They want to be active. They want to be healthy," he said.