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Harley-Davidson Profit Beats Expectations

Harley-Davidson isn’t exactly a “bellwether” stock, but some analysts are optimistic that the lower than expected decline in motorcycle sales for the iconic brand means that more conusmers are willing to purchase high end motorcycles.

Rising consumer confidence is the tide that lifts almost every business ship in the economic harbor.

Even though worldwide retail sales of new Harley-Davidson® motorcycles decreased 5.5 percent in the quarter compared to the second quarter of 2009,  analysists had expected sales to be down 13-18%.   In the U.S., retail new Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales were down 8.4 percent from a year ago.

Despite fewer motorcycle sales, the company’s profit picked up 28.9% due largely to the financial division having made a $150 million dollar swing on the balance sheet.  The financial services division went from losing 90 million last year to posting a 60 million dollar profit this year.   For the first six months, Harley reported it’s income from continuing operations was $208.0 million, or $0.89 per share, up from .08 cents per share.

Harley will begin negotiations with its union later this week and has said that if certain objectives are not met with the union by mid-September 2010, it insists it will move the Wisconsin production operations to another U.S. location.

In a press release Keith Wandell said,  “Harley-Davidson is making steady progress at executing its strategy to deliver results through focus,” said Keith Wandell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. “We are seeing the benefits of our restructuring and continuous improvement activities reflected in our earnings performance.

“We are pleased with the continued moderation in the rate of decline of retail new Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales again in the second quarter. At the same time, we continue to believe conditions will remain challenging this year for new motorcycle purchases and we will manage the business based on that expectation, with a continued strong focus on managing supply in line with demand,” Wandell said.

“Despite the decline in second-quarter retail motorcycle sales, we believe interest in the Harley-Davidson brand remains strong among riders of all generations. In fact, Harley-Davidson is the U.S. market share leader of on-road motorcycles among young adults. We will continue to focus our resources on expanding the global reach of the brand and developing new products that will reach even more riders going forward,” Wandell said. “I would like to thank our employees for their continued hard work and support of our strategy.”

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and Related Products Segment

Second-Quarter Segment Results: Revenue from Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the second quarter of 2010 of $831.6 million was up 2.8 percent compared to the year-ago period. In line with guidance, the Company shipped 59,046 Harley-Davidson motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide during the quarter, compared to shipments of 58,179 motorcycles in the second quarter of 2009.

Revenue from Parts and Accessories totaled $231.8 million during the quarter, up 0.2 percent, and revenue from General Merchandise, which includes MotorClothes® apparel, was $67.4 million, down 3.2 percent compared to the year-ago period.

Gross margin was 35.0 percent in the second quarter, compared to 34.1 percent in the year-ago period.  Second-quarter operating margin decreased to 13.9 percent from 15.3 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

Six-Month Segment Results: Through the first six months of 2010, shipments of Harley-Davidson motorcycles were 112,720 units, a 15.2 percent decrease compared to last year’s 132,849 units for the period. Revenue from Harley-Davidson motorcycles through six months was $1.64 billion, a 9.8 percent decrease compared to the year-ago period. Six-month P&A revenue was $380.9 million, a 5.0 percent decrease from the first half of 2009. General Merchandise revenue was $133.6 million, a 7.7 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2009. Gross margin through six months was 35.7 percent and operating margin was 13.1 percent, compared to 35.7 percent and 16.8 percent respectively in last year’s first half.

Retail Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Sales

During the second quarter of 2010, dealer retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles decreased 5.5 percent worldwide, 8.4 percent in the U.S. and 0.2 percent in international markets, compared to the prior-year quarter. Second-quarter retail results reflect a sequential moderation in the rate of decline from the prior four quarters, although the basis for comparison has decreased over that period. Industry-wide U.S. heavyweight motorcycle (651cc-plus) retail unit sales decreased 10.1 percent in the second quarter compared to the year-ago period.

Through six months, worldwide retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles decreased 10.7 percent compared to the prior-year period. U.S. retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles decreased 15.3 percent for the first half of the year while the U.S. heavyweight market segment was down 14.7 percent for the same period, compared to the year-ago period. In international markets, retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles decreased 1.1 percent for the first six months of 2010 compared to 2009.

Second-quarter-and first-half data are listed in the accompanying tables.

Guidance

The Company reiterated its expectation to ship 201,000 to 212,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2010, a reduction of five to ten percent from 2009. In the third quarter of 2010, the Company expects to ship 53,000 to 58,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Harley-Davidson now expects gross margin to be between 32.5 percent and 34.0 percent for the full year, versus the prior estimate of 32.0 percent to 33.5 percent. The Company continues to expect full-year capital expenditures of between $235 million and $255 million, including $95 million to $110 million to support restructuring activities.

Financial Services Segment

Second-quarter operating income from Financial Services was $60.8 million, compared to an operating loss of $90.5 million in the year-ago quarter. Last year’s second-quarter results were affected by two non-recurring, non-cash charges totaling $101.1 million to establish a credit loss provision related to the reclassification of motorcycle loan receivables and to write off all HDFS goodwill. Through six months, operating income from Financial Services was $87.5 million, compared to an operating loss of $79.3 million in the first half of 2009.

Restructuring Update

The Company continues to expect previously announced restructuring activities begun in 2009 to result in total one-time charges of $430 million to $460 million into 2012, including charges of $175 million to $195 million in 2010. In 2010, the Company continues to expect savings of $135 million to $155 million from previously announced restructuring activities, increasing to expected annual ongoing savings of approximately $240 million to $260 million upon completion of these restructuring activities.

The Company and the unions representing its Wisconsin production employees are scheduled to begin negotiations this week on new labor agreements that would take effect upon the expiration of the current contracts in April 2012. Through the negotiation of new agreements, the Company seeks to close large cost gaps in its Milwaukee-area and Tomahawk production operations and improve flexibility to meet seasonal and other customer-driven production needs. If Harley-Davidson is unable to achieve those objectives through agreement with the unions by mid-September 2010, the Company has said it will move Wisconsin production operations to another U.S. location. The financial effects of a decision on Wisconsin production operations are not included in the restructuring costs and savings delineated above. The Company will provide updated cost and savings information at such time as it discloses a final decision on the Wisconsin operations. The Company will retain corporate headquarters, product development and the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, regardless of the outcome of its decision on production operations.

Income Tax Rate

The Company’s second-quarter effective income tax rate from continuing operations was 29.2 percent compared to 59.9 percent in the same quarter last year.  The rate decrease was generally due to the non-recurrence of a $28.4 million non-deductible goodwill impairment charge incurred in the second quarter of 2009 as well as the favorable conclusion of an IRS audit in the second-quarter of 2010 and, in connection with the settlement, an adjustment to income taxes payable. The Company now expects its 2010 full-year effective tax rate from continuing operations to be approximately 36.0 percent.

Cash Flow

Cash and marketable securities totaled $1.50 billion as of June 27, 2010, compared to $1.02 billion at the end of last year’s second quarter. Cash provided by operating activities of continuing operations was $726.0 million and capital expenditures were $45.8 million during the first half of 2010.

Discontinued Operations

The Company continues to be in discussions with potential buyers regarding its previously announced intention to sell MV Agusta. For the second quarter of 2010, Harley-Davidson, Inc. incurred a $68.1 million loss from discontinued operations, comprised of operating losses as well as a fair value adjustment of $61.5 million net of taxes. Including discontinued operations, the Company reported earnings per share of $0.30 in the second quarter of 2010. Through the first six months of 2010, Harley-Davidson, Inc. incurred a $103.5 million loss from discontinued operations. First-half earnings per share, including discontinued operations, were $0.45.

Forward-Looking Statements

The Company intends that certain matters discussed in this release are “forward-looking statements” intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can generally be identified as such because the context of the statement will include words such as the Company “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “plans,” or “estimates” or words of similar meaning. Similarly, statements that describe future plans, objectives, outlooks, targets, guidance or goals are also forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated as of the date of this release. Certain of such risks and uncertainties are described below. Shareholders, potential investors, and other readers are urged to consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements and cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included in this release are only made as of the date of this release, and the Company disclaims any obligation to publicly update such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

The Company’s ability to meet the targets and expectations noted depends upon, among other factors, the Company’s ability to (i) execute its business strategy and divest certain company assets, (ii) effectively execute the Company’s restructuring plans within expected costs and timing, (iii) successfully achieve with our labor unions flexible and cost-effective agreements to accomplish restructuring goals and long-term competitiveness, (iv) manage the risks that our independent dealers may have difficulty obtaining capital, and adjusting to the recession and slowdown in consumer demand,  (v) manage supply chain issues, (vi) anticipate the level of consumer confidence in the economy, (vii) continue to have access to reliable sources of capital funding and adjust to fluctuations in the cost of capital, (viii) manage the credit quality, the loan servicing and collection activities, and the recovery rates of HDFS’ loan portfolio, (ix) continue to realize production efficiencies at its production facilities and manage operating costs including materials, labor and overhead, (x) manage production capacity and production changes, (xi) provide products, services and experiences that are successful in the marketplace, (xii) develop and implement sales and marketing plans that retain existing retail customers and attract new retail customers in an increasingly competitive marketplace, (xiii) sell all of its motorcycles and related products and services to its independent dealers, (xiv) continue to develop the capabilities of its distributor and dealer network, (xv) manage changes and prepare for requirements in legislative and regulatory environments for its products, services and operations, (xvi) adjust to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and commodity prices, (xvii) adjust to healthcare inflation and reform, pension reform and tax changes, (xviii) retain and attract talented employees, (xix) detect any issues with our motorcycles or manufacturing processes to avoid delays in new model launches, recall campaigns, increased warranty costs or litigation, and (xx) implement and manage enterprise-wide information technology solutions and secure data contained in those systems.

In addition, the Company could experience delays or disruptions in its operations as a result of work stoppages, strikes, natural causes, terrorism or other factors. Other factors are described in risk factors that the Company has disclosed in documents previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many of these risk factors are impacted by the current turbulent capital, credit and retail markets and our ability to adjust to the recession.

The Company’s ability to sell its motorcycles and related products and services and to meet its financial expectations also depends on the ability of the Company’s independent dealers to sell its motorcycles and related products and services to retail customers. The Company depends on the capability and financial capacity of its independent dealers and distributors to develop and implement effective retail sales plans to create demand for the motorcycles and related products and services they purchase from the Company. In addition, the Company’s independent dealers and distributors may experience difficulties in operating their businesses and selling Harley-Davidson motorcycles and related products and services as a result of weather, economic conditions or other factors.

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