Newt Kindlund could be called an RV retailing pioneer.
Kindlund, 58, is CEO of Holiday RV Superstores Inc. in Orlando, Fla., the only publicly held RV retailing chain in the United States.
But Holiday's stock, which trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol RVEE, has done little more than tread water during the bull market of the 1990s. The stock began trading in October 1987 at $2.75 per share. It peaked at $4.75 in 1989, and now trades where it started, around $2.75.
Along the way, Kindlund has expanded from two stores in Florida to seven in four states. Yet the stock has been quiet.
'We had some preconceived ideas about the benefits of being public that haven't materialized,' Kindlund said.
He had hoped that a higher stock price would draw more investors, which in turn would provide more cash to run his business.
Now, as he prepares to retire in June 2000, Kindlund has refocused.
'Our goal is to get the stock price to take off, then get more businesses into the fold and attract a good management team,' he said.
BUYBACK UNDER WAY
Holiday has been buying back some of its shares in an effort to boost the stock price. More than 400,000 shares, worth $2 million, have been repurchased since November 1997. Kindlund and his wife hold nearly 60 percent of 7.4 million outstanding shares.
The buybacks demonstrate 'our underlying support for the stock and increased shareholder value,' Kindlund said. As for acquisitions, Holiday has three or four RV outlets in its sights, he said.
Even without his efforts to boost Holiday's stock, Kindlund is confident the stock market will come around to what he calls 'real businesses' - those with bricks and mortar, where people meet their customers every day.
In Kindlund's words, 'When the Web-based stocks take a hit, and I think they will, some fundamental (investment) players will come back and take a look at the real businesses and say, 'This is where we should be.' '
But RV retail stock is not glamorous and does not promise much return, said Jeff Jacobowitz, an analyst at Robotti and Co. in New York.
'It's a micro-cap stock that no one has any interest in,' Jaco-bowitz said. 'Even if he quadruples the size of the company, it would still be below most people's radar screens. The only thing to do is keep buying stock at those cheap prices.'
THE INTERNET WORKS
Improving the image of RV retailing among the investment community will be hard, Kindlund admits. He's counting on a new tool, his Web site, to help.
Holiday's Web page, www.holidayrv.com, went online in March 1997. Through August 1998, it registered more than 10,000 hits. That's not much by some standards, but it's a good response in the RV world, Kindlund said.
Although only seven or eight of the company's 250 monthly sales come from Internet-generated leads, Kindlund said a Web presence is important. Visitors to the Web site browse inventory, get price quotes, fill out credit applications - even look through the company's financial report.
His June 2000 retirement is set in stone, Kindlund said, so he is under pressure to get the company stock high. CFO Hardee McAlhaney is expected to succeed Kindlund as CEO.
And though he is nearing the end of a career in RV retailing, Kindlund spends most of his time focusing on the future. His perch: a company that netted $1.69 million in profits last year, on sales of $74.29 million, with an equity of $17.5 million.
'We've built a company with a strong balance sheet, a company where I personally don't have to guarantee a dime,' Kindlund said. 'I haven't made the kind of monetary gains I expected, but right now I am focused on the goal of building a company for the next generation.'