Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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FEW POSITIVES FOR HARLEY

Half-yearly performance figures for Harley-Davidson paint a portrait of almost unremitting misery. BDN financial editor Roger Willis reports.

For the six months to 30 June, Harley’s turnover stagnated, sliding marginally by 0.4% to £2.479bn. Revenue from motorcycles and related products (spares, accessories, apparel, etc) was 0.6% down to £2.2bn. The contribution from POS credit and dealer inventory funding services increased by 1.4% to £279m. Operating profit fell by 18.6% to £427m. Net profit was 6.3% lower at £318m.

During this period, wholesale shipments to dealers worldwide dropped by 10.5% to 136,537 bikes. Total retail sales were 5.1% down to 129,514. US domestic customers accounted for 75,799, a painful 8.7% decline. However, international markets rose by 0.5% to 53,715 — improving from a 0.2% rise in the first quarter. European gains were largely responsible for such a glimmer of hope.

Europe stacked on 5.7% to 25,728. The threat of inflated prices from EU punitive tariff imposition probably incentivised a proportion of these purchases, pulling them forward and therefore potentially impinging on second-half volume. The only other faint ray of sunshine could be found in Latin America, which was 8% up to 5075. The Asia-Pacific region sank by 7.4% to 14,047 and Canada was 4.9% down to 5887.

As usual, Harley supremo Matt Levatich played the eternal optimist when commenting on these broadly dire numbers. “Our results reflect business performance that is in line with our expectations,” he said. “We are making progress building the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders in line with our long-term objectives. Our manufacturing optimisation, demand-driving investments and commitment to manage supply in line with demand remain on target and continue to strengthen our business.”

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