Harley-Davidson Returns to Profitability

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Harley-Davidson has announced its Q1 quarterly earnings today, and the Milwaukee-based company posted a $68.7 million profit. This news comes after Harley-Davidson posted a $218 million loss last quarter, and finished in the hole over $55 million for the 2009 year. Harley’s return to profitability is partially due to the company’s restructuring of its financial services, which are once again generating money for the iconic American brand. Harley-Davidson Financial Services posted a profit of $26.7 million this past quarter, almost a third of HD’s net income in Q1.

Harley-Davidson sales are still down 18.2% from Q1 in 2009, the company reports. Though international sales remained fairly steady, declining only 2.8% (US sales were down 24.3%). “We are encouraged by our progress in the first quarter,” said Keith Wandell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. “

We are seeing directional improvement in our dealers’ retail motorcycle sales as we enter the key selling season. At the same time, given the global economic uncertainty that still exists, we believe conditions will remain challenging throughout this year, and we will continue to factor that into how we manage the business.” Wandell and his crew are reportedly steering Harley-Davidson to find strength in overseas markets, while continuing to serve its core demographic here in the United States.

Revenue from Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the first quarter of 2010 of $808.8 million was down 20.0% compared to Q1 of 2009. Harley shipped 53,674 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide during the quarter, compared to shipments of 74,670 motorcycles in the first quarter of 2009.

It should be noted that Harley-Davidson counts bikes as “sold” when they reach the dealer, not when the dealer actually sells the motorcycle. Harley-Davidson has a history of channel stuffing its dealers, so it’s difficult at this point to tell how many Harley-Davidson motorcycles are actually making it onto the road when looking at these numbers.

Revenue from Parts and Accessories totaled $149.1 million during the quarter, down 12.1%, and revenue from merchandise and apparel, was $66.3 million, down 11.9% compared to the year-ago period.

Harley-Davidson stock was up today with the news, with shares currently trading at $35/share, up 7% from yesterday’s closing.

Source: Harley-Davidson