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SUSTAINED RECOVERY FOR POLARIS

Uninterrupted success for its reborn Indian motorcycle brand and a remarkable turnaround in the latter half for core off-road vehicle (ORV) sales culminated in excellent 2017 performance for previously troubled US powersports manfacturer Polaris Industries. BDN financial editor Roger Willis reports.

Despite killing off the loss-making Victory bike brand last January, with associated turnover elimination and wind-down costs, Polaris full-year revenue rose by 20.2% to £3.818bn. Pre-tax income was 33% up at £313.2m and net profit climbed by 37.4% to £218.8m.

ORV operations, covering ATVs, side-by-sides and snowmobiles, were the key contributor to this revival. Revenue from this sector improved by 8.8% to £2.51bn. Motorcycle revenue, mainly from Indian cruisers but featuring smaller input from Slingshot trikes, fell by 17.9% to £404m following Victory’s demise.

Polaris chairman and chief executive Scott Wine said: “Looking forward, I could not be more excited about the momentum we have built. Dealer inventory is approaching optimal levels, our delivery issues are being addressed and our product innovation, which continues to resonate well with consumers, will receive an added boost from increased engineering spend.”

Polaris is tight-lipped about sales volume details. However, hints suggest double-digit percentage annual domestic growth for Indian, set against an overall 2017 US motorcycle market decline of 3.2% and a reduction of 6%-plus for large-capacity machines. Given Harley-Davidson’s 8.5% US retail sales slump, Indian’s nibbling away at its home market share is becoming steadily more significant.

 

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