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Harley's Project Rushmore booms

2013-10-23 07:52

NEW MODELS BOOST HARLEY SALES: The pinnacle of Harley-Davidson factory custom craftsmanship has been extended to four new limited edition models for 2014. Image: Harley-Davidson

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Bike columnist DAVE FALL took a piece of two-wheeled history back in time on a ride from Cape Town to Hermanus - the long way round - on a Harley-Davidson Softail.

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin - Harley-Davidson's third-quarter earnings rose 21% as buyers in the US and abroad snapped up a line of new motorcycles that was introduced in August.

The Milwaukee company said US sales were up 20% from July through September while international sales rose 6.5%. The quarter continued the company's comeback from the economic meltdown in 2008.

Harley-Davidson made $162.7-million, or 73c/share, during the third quarter, up from $134-million (59c/share) the previous year. Revenue from motorcycles and related products rose eight percent to $1.18-billion.

STRONG EARNINGS

The company matched Wall Street's expectations for the quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 73c/share on revenue of $1.17-billion.

The strong earnings, released on October 22, nudged Harley shares up in morning trading. The company's stock rose 11c to $65.68 soon after the opening bell.

The company said it sold almost 71 000 motorcycles worldwide during the quarter, nearly 16% more than a year earlier. Sales rose 10% in the Asia-Pacific region and gained nearly 16% in Latin America.

Buyers responded well to Harley's new Project Rushmore line of motorcycles introduced on August 18, Chairman and CEO Keith Wandell said in a statement. "Initial retail sales of the new Project Rushmore motorcycles," he said, "sparked the largest year-over-year new model sales increase in two decades.

Harley reiterated that it expected to ship around 260 000 motorcycles through 2013 with a gross margin for the year of about 36%. Operating income from the company's financial services segment was $76.1-million for the quarter, up 5.1% from a year earlier, reflecting higher interest income.
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