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Winnebago posts higher-than-expected profit; shares rise

CHICAGO, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Winnebago Industries Inc , the No. 1 U.S. motor-home manufacturer, reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday and said its backlog continued to grow due to rebounding demand from both dealers and consumers.

Its shares rose more than 4 percent in premarket trading on the news.

The company, small but closely watched because of the view it provides on spending on big-ticket discretionary items, said its sales order backlog grew for the sixth consecutive quarter - a reflection of dealer optimism about the economic recovery.

Winnebago reported a profit of $10.6 million, or 38 cents a share, for the fourth quarter ended on Aug. 31, compared with $40.9 million, or $1.41 a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected earnings of 28 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Excluding a year-earlier noncash tax item, Winnebago's profit more than doubled from 14 cents a share.

Sales rose 32 percent to $214.2 million, while analysts had forecast $208 million.

In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Randy Potts said deliveries to Winnebago's network of independent dealers were strong and that consumer demand had increased for the company's RVs, which range in price from about $65,000 to more than $300,000.

In trading before the market opened, shares of Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago were up 4.1 percent at $28.40.