Har­ley-David­son sales re­main stuck in low gear

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY | TECH - Rick Bar­rett

As its mo­tor­cy­cle sales in the U.S. con­tin­ued to fall, Har­ley-David­son Inc. on Tues­day re­ported an 8.7 per­cent de­cline in fourth-quar­ter rev­enue.

The com­pany also said it’s de­vel­op­ing more elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cles aimed at at­tract­ing new cus­tomers, in­clud­ing ur­ban com­muters and younger rid­ers.

“The goal for these con­cepts is to not re­quire a mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense to op­er­ate and fea­ture twist-and-go op­er­a­tion; low­er­ing the learn­ing curve and ex­pand­ing the op­por­tu­nity to rid­ers and as­pir­ing rid­ers ev­ery­where in the process,” Har­ley said.

For 2019, the com­pany said it ex­pects to ship be­tween 217,000 and 222,000 bikes, the low­est in eight years as the mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try over­all re­mains stuck in low gear.

Har­ley, the world’s largest maker of heavy­weight mo­tor­cy­cles, has strug­gled to re­verse a slide in sales, with growth over­seas some­what help­ing off­set a de­cline in the U.S. mar­ket.

For the re­cent quar­ter that ended Dec. 31, the com­pany re­ported earn­ings of $495,000, or less than 1 cent per share, down from $8.3 mil­lion or 5 cents per share in the same pe­riod a year ear­lier. The av­er­age es­ti­mate of five an­a­lysts sur­veyed by Zacks In­vest­ment Re­search was for earn­ings of 17 cents per share.

Har­ley posted $1.15 bil­lion in rev­enue in the re­cent quar­ter, down from $1.23 bil­lion in the same pe­riod a year ear­lier.

The com­pany said its in­ter­na­tional mo­tor­cy­cle sales for 2018 were slightly ahead of 2017, but U.S. sales fell 10.2 per­cent and world­wide sales, over­all, fell 6.1 per­cent.

Last sum­mer, Har­ley-David­son was one of the high-pro­file Amer­i­can com­pa­nies sin­gled out by the Euro­pean Union and hit with tar­iffs in re­tal­i­a­tion for tar­iffs the U.S. put on for­eign alu­minum and steel.

Caught in the global trade cross­fire, Har­ley said a 31 per­cent tar­iff the EU im­posed on U.S.-built mo­tor­cy­cles would force the com­pany to build those bikes over­seas.

That prompted a se­ries of an­gry tweets from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump who chas­tised the com­pany for pro­duc­ing mo­tor­cy­cles out­side of the coun­try.

Har­ley re­cently said its first elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cle in the com­pany’s 116-year his­tory was avail­able for pre-or­der in the U.S. at a price of about $30,000.

The bike, called LiveWire, will be at Har­ley deal­er­ships this fall with a sug­gested re­tail price of $29,799.

Mon­day, the com­pany in­tro­duced two elec­tric con­cept bikes and hinted that more were in the pipe­line.

“The up­com­ing elec­tric port­fo­lio will fea­ture a spec­trum of mod­els and price points from a few thou­sand dol­lars to Har­ley-David­son’s halo elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cle, the LiveWire,” Har­ley said.

“As part of the push to­wards a dif­fer­ent fu­ture, these con­cepts ex­plore the po­ten­tial of ur­ban mo­bil­ity and twowheeled adop­tion. With an in­tended light­weight tar­get for each con­cept, agility and ma­neu­ver­abil­ity are at the core of their rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and ease of use. Bat­tery de­sign is in­tended to be re­mov­able and en­able sin­gle-hand-carry back to an apart­ment or of­fice space to charge us­ing a charg­ing dock that plugs into any stan­dard house­hold power out­let.”

Har­ley says LiveWire can also be charged from a stan­dard house­hold elec­tric out­let with a power cord that stores be­low the seat.

HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON

Har­ley-David­son says it’s in­tro­duc­ing more elec­tric mo­tor­cy­cles, like this con­cept bike.

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