Harley-Davidson Inc. Sees Record Quarterly Profits Despite Drop in Motorcycle Sales

Much of the year-to-year drop in sales can be attributed to the success the company experienced with its 100th-anniversary sales last year. Some observers worry about modest future growth projections, but most parts of its business continue to grow.

Despite new-bike sales that were almost 10 percent off compared to the same record-setting period last year, Harley-Davidson Inc. reported record profits for the quarter ending September 26, 2004. The company saw an 18 percent increase in revenue despite the sales decline, which was attributed in part to the weather disasters befalling the southeast and in part to the fact that the comparative third-quarter of 2003 saw tremendous interest and sales because of Harley's 100th anniversary. Overall, Harley says its sales are up 7.1 percent for 2004 and that it is on track to meet its 317,000-unit sales projection for the year. It is also projecting 2005 sales of 339,000 units.

The company also reported substantial increases in all its other division—parts and accessories, clothing and collectibles, and financial services—all of which contributed to a 24 percent increase in earnings per share. International sales were off fractionally and sales of bikes by its Buell subsidiary were off as well. Some analysts are concerned that the current sales growth and projected 2005 increase is at the lower end of the company's normal seven-to-nine percent year-over-year sales-growth projections, and may reflect diminishing demand for Harley-Davidson motorcycles

Harley's sales are often considered the bellwether for the street motorcycle industry and cruisers in particular. The rest of the motorcycle industry is reportedly seeing a decline of a bit over 2.0 percent for the period, but those figures typically include sales of other types of vehicles, including ATVs. Of course, other brands aren't following on a heavily hyped 100th anniversary year either.

Harley-Davidson's official statement is available here:
Harley-Davidson News Release

Other articles about the announcement are available at these links:
CBS MarketWatch
Smart Money
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, WI

For more breaking motorcycle news, visit the home page of www.MotorcycleCruiser.com.