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HARLEY MISFIRES ON ECONOMIC HEADWINDS

Despite higher prices and fairly robust underlying demand, Harley-Davidson was unable to overcome the battery of deleterious costs and component shortages impinging on its performance during the first quarter of 2022. BDN financial editor Roger Willis reports.

Revenue from motorcycles and related products in the period rose by 5.8% to £1.042bn. But associated operating profit was 10.8% down to £162.1m as an ongoing semiconductor famine disrupted wholesale shipments. 

Turnover from the company’s POS consumer credit arm HDFS was virtually flat, just 0.8% up to £153.5m. However, a substantial increase in allowances for bad debt meant related operating profit suffered a 27.2% plunge to £69m.

Harley-Davidson’s overall quarterly revenue added 5.1% to £1.195bn. Total operating profit fell by 16.4% to £231.1m. Net profit was 14.1% lower at £177.7m.

Wholesale shipments to domestic US dealers slumped by 10.6% to 35,891 bikes. Total worldwide shipments in the quarter effectively flatlined at 54,843, a mere 33 additional machines year-on-year. 

Global retail sales volume narrowly improved, boasting a 2.1% rise to 45,152. Within that, the EMEA region shone out as a beacon of escape from tit-for-tat tariff warfare between the US and EU. Deliveries to mostly European customers climbed by 28.2% to 6339. Asia-Pacific countries put on 16.1% to 6724. Latin America and Canada respectively added 12.8% to 809 and 4.1% to 1872. Only US home turf was negative, 5.1% in arrears on 29,408.

Harley’s forecast for the rest of 2022 is reliant on a large portion of wishful thinking. It assumes “that logistics and manufacturing will moderately improve in the back half of the year as we get beyond the peak levels of inflation experienced in 2021 and the semiconductor supply stabilises”. Whoever wrote that wasn’t paying attention. US inflation is currently running at a much higher level than last year, without any signs of peaking. No end is in sight for the semiconductor situation either.

$-£ currency translation at forex rates applicable on 27 April.

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