Harley-Davidson 1Q profit revs up as sales jump
NEW YORK (AP) — Harley-Davidson's first-quarter profit jumped 44 percent, as improving economic conditions and early spring weather boosted U.S. sales of its famous motorcycles.
The results beat Wall Street expectations and the company on Wednesday boosted its shipments forecast for the year.
Shares jumped more than 7 percent in afternoon trading, reaching levels that have not been seen since August 2007, just before the global economic crisis ravaged Harley's business.
President and CEO Keith Wandell cited improving U.S. economic environment, as well as a drastic restructuring that froze pay, cut hundreds of jobs and brought in part-time workers.
"In the U.S., while we are proud of our market share gains in recent years, we believe there is a lot of room yet to run on the industry's road to recovery," Wandell said in a conference call with analysts.
The CEO also acknowledged that some of the sales increase might have stemmed from unusually warm weather in many parts of the country, possibly pulling forward some bike sales that would have otherwise occurred later in the season.
"I don't think it's anything huge, but there is a weather effect that we saw in the first quarter and so we would expect retail sales to moderate a little bit as we move into the spring selling season," Wandell told analysts.
Harley motorcycles can run from $8,000 for a basic model to more than $30,000 for a large highly customized model and when the economy crashed, the Milwaukee company saw sales plunge by double digits within a year.
In the years since, the company has reversed its fortunes, despite economic woes both at home and abroad. Harley's sales of motorcycle and related products grew 13 percent in 2011 and the recent quarter marked its fourth-straight increase in U.S. sales.
Still, Wandell points out that bike sales for the entire industry totaled only about half of their prerecession peak.
Business Photo Galleriesview all
- 33271Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 24362Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 6895OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins
- 6548Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 4476OKC Thunder: Thunder trio praise fans before potential departures
- 4156Student shot dead during botched home invasion
- 3398Oklahoma State football: Todd Monken thinks Wes Lunt should've stayed in Stillwater