Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., the largest U.S. maker of recreational vehicles, expects to sell or close at least 22 of its retail stores by the end of April, according to a regulatory filing. The Riverside-based company also has entered into a limited operating agreement with an unnamed "large independent retailer" that will take over the operations and most of the new inventory at 67 other retail outlets, the Securities and Exchange Commission filing said. Fleetwood said it would recognize the revenue and profit as the assumed inventory is liquidated. Fleetwood, which also retails manufactured housing, closed 47 retail stores in the first three quarters of the fiscal year that ends April 30. Since October 1999, the company has cut about 5,500 workers and closed 13 manufactured-housing plants and one RV factory. The company had about 19,600 workers in October 1999, when the manufactured housing and RV industries were at their peak. After its third quarter ended, the company announced plans to shut down three housing plants and three RV plants. The RV plants will continue to operate in the fourth quarter to satisfy customer orders and consume inventory, the filing said. About 50% of Fleetwood's revenue and 40% of its earnings historically have been generated by its manufactured housing business. The company says this has been challenged as financing for home buyers dries up. The company said earlier this month that it is in violation of financial terms on $80 million in notes because of its fiscal third-quarter loss. Fleetwood shares rose 2 cents to close at $9.15 on the NYSE. The shares have fallen almost 25% in the past six months.
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