Harley-Davidson Sales Are Falling Again — The Motley Fool

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) is resuming a losing ways. After it managed to sell accurately 33 some-more motorcycles in a U.S. in a fourth entertain of 2016 than it had a year before, gnawing a two-year losing strain in a process, a large bike builder picked adult where it left off in a initial quarter and reported that sales fell again.

It’s not indispensably Harley-Davidson’s error given a whole motorcycle attention is in a slump, yet it is still worrisome given it has new, even some-more showy skeleton for a future.

Harley-Davidson XL 883 Superlow

Image source: Harley-Davidson.

Not revving a engines

The motorcycle aristocrat pronounced tellurian sales fell 4.2% for a period, yet they were down 5.7% domestically even as they remained “in line with a projections.” Harley likely it would boat between 66,000 and 71,000 bikes this quarter, and they came in during a high finish with 70,831 attack play lots. Even so, that’s 15% subsequent final year’s first-quarter shipments, and it shows how low of a hole a attention and Harley are in.

Chart display Harley-Davidson's quarterly U.S. motorcycle sales

Data source: Harley-Davidson quarterly SEC filings. Chart by author.

The pivotal for Harley competence be either it can benefit traction again in general sales. While a U.S. is a bread-and-butter market, generating over 60% of sum sales, unfamiliar markets have during slightest shown expansion in new periods, yet not in a latest quarter, where sales fell 1.8% from final year. But a second entertain is a biggest entertain both here and abroad, and if it can get a rubber on a cement again, it competence during slightest assistance equivalent what’s seen as a long contraction in a U.S.

Slacks sales here, there, and everywhere

What astounded Harley was a debility exhibited by a Asia-Pacific market, a second largest general market, that saw sales decrease 9.3% from final year. That marketplace started slipping late in 2016, when sales fell 0.4% in a fourth quarter, yet now it appears a decrease is accelerating. No doubt sales have been harm by a clever U.S. dollar, that creates products some-more expensive. This is an generally formidable conditions for a reward labelled oppulance good like a Harley, yet a bike builder thinks a behind half of a year will uncover improvements.

Here in a U.S., Harley-Davidson wasn’t helped by a preference to reason behind indication year 2017 bikes from dealers so they could sell a leftover batch of 2016 bikes that they still had on palm (accounting for a high year-over-year dump in shipments). CEO Mike Levatich admits it harm sales in a initial quarter, yet now he’s happy with where a register conditions is as good as a marketplace share position, that it says grew in a period.

Yet to assistance get those bikes moving, one thing Harley did was something formerly unheard of: It began discounting a bikes. Well, it ran some special promotions for top-tier buyers giving them special seductiveness rates on purchases, that finished in February. But afterwards dealers began putting together their possess special programs like reduce seductiveness rates or no income down to pierce bikes, and Harley began providing a dealers with incentives to assistance them.

Two Harley-Davidson motorcycles on a open road

Image source: Harley-Davidson.

Harley-Davidson has always noticed a bikes as reward products that merit to be reward priced, and that hasn’t changed. It noticed a conditions in this duration as a really singular situation, one that resulted from it carrying shipped too many bikes since it misjudged how critical a downturn was in a market. The programs, though, are really ephemeral and will finish during a finish of a month.

Still a aristocrat of a road

Harley, of course, owns half of a U.S. motorcycle market, and second place Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) trails distant behind in a singular digits to low double digits, depending on who’s counting. But Polaris’ new preference to retire a Victory code and put all of a appetite into Indian Motorcycle, that has valid intensely renouned and still exhibits double-digit expansion rates notwithstanding a attention slump, could infer severe to Harley.

Harley-Davidson has an desirous devise laid out for a subsequent 10 years. Not usually does it wish to move in 2 million new Harley riders, yet it will also deliver 100 new motorcycles over a entrance decade. That might be a bit most deliberation a state of a attention and of Harley itself.

That’s 10 new models each year for 10 true years. When it introduced 8 new bikes in 2014, it was a overwhelming bid that was deemed “the largest new indication launch in Harley’s history.” Now it’s going above and over that by doing so each year for a subsequent decade.

Perhaps that’s usually what it needs to do. Indian, for example, has denounced a handful of new models for a stream indication year: dual new Chieftain bikes that paint something of a depart from a traditional styling motorcycle enthusiasts have come to design from a ancestral brand, and a new leather-bagged Roadmaster Classic. Harley’s styling might be seen as stale, that is contributing to tardy sales, and new models that not usually build on yet enhance those lines could assistance extract sales.

It’s still a unsure proposition, and with sales resuming their losing ways, a 100 bikes in 10 years module might need to be pushed serve out.

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