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WEAK PERFORMANCE FROM HARLEY

Harley-Davidson’s woes continued in its third financial quarter to 30 September with declining profitability and retail sales.

Although total revenue in this three-month period grew by 1.2% to £852m, operating profit fell by 4.7% to £139.4m and net profit was down by 6.5% to £90.6m. The brand’s quarterly global retail bike sales shrank by 1.4% to 72,178 units. US domestic market dealers suffered a 2.5% decline to 48,918 units. International sales were marginal positive with a 0.9% rise to 23,260 units. The Asia Pacific region put on 5.1% and Europe was up by 2.4%. But Latin America and Canada dropped by 11.5% and 1.7% respectively.

Figures for the nine months of 2015 to date were worse. Overall revenue has decreased by 4.4% to £3.11bn. Operating profit fell by 8% to £703m. Net profit dropped by 7.8% to £458.5m. Total retail sales were down by 1.4% at 217,770 units. Apart from a 6.9% Asia Pacific improvement, everywhere else was negative — down by 1.3% in the USA, 5.1% in Europe, 5.1% in Latin America and 3.9% in Canada.

In response to such depressing news, Harley chief executive Matt Levatich outlined a stronger marketing and model refreshment drive funded by one-off spending of about £20m at his results presentation. He also announced a downwards revision of full-year guidance on wholesale motorcycle deliveries to dealers. A previous maximum figure of 281,000 units has now been cut to 270,000 and shipments will probably end up 2% down on 2014.

“We expect a heightened competitive environment to continue for the foreseeable future, and now is the time for us to dial things up with significant additional investments in marketing and product development,” said Levatich. “In the short term, because the third quarter did not unfold as we expected, we are lowering shipment guidance. Our ongoing commitment to manage supply in line with demand and maintain the premium nature of the brand remains a top priority.” 

New York Stock Exchange investors reacted with their feet, wiping 14% off Harley-Davidson’s share price following these revelations.

 

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