Harley-Davidson sales remain stuck in low gear
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 says it’s introducing more electric motorcycles, like this concept bike.