Harley-Davidson fared better than the U.S. heavyweight market as a whole in its fourth quarter, but still sustained double-digit percentage declines in new unit sales.
Harley reported a 19.6 percent decrease in its fourth-quarter retail motorcycle sales in the United States, which overall saw a 25.5 percent drop in the heavyweight market. Harley also reported declines in its parts and accessories and General Merchandise segments. Overall, Harley’s fourth-quarter revenue dipped nearly 7 percent to $1.29 billion.
The company’s net income, however, fell much further, declining 58.2 percent compared to a year ago. Credit losses were part of the reason for the drop in net income as Harley’s financial services recorded an operating loss of $24.9 million, a $63.5 million decrease from the year-ago quarter.
Harley’s worldwide bike sales fell 13.1 percent compared to last year’s fourth quarter. The company’s international retail sales grew 0.7 percent during the fourth quarter compared to the year-ago period. That includes increases in Canada (by 1.4 percent) and Europe (3.4 percent) while the company’s Asia Pacific Region was down nearly 9 percent.
Other key fourth-quarter reports included:
Harley’s worldwide retail bike sales fell 7.1 percent, with its key U.S. market down 13 percent compared to 2007. The overall U.S. heavyweight market fell 7 percent for the same period, the company reported.
International new bike sales increased 10.3 percent for the full year. Sales in Europe, Harley’s second largest market, grew 4.7 percent from the previous year, which is better than the market as a whole. Europe’s heavyweight market grew approximately 3 percent over the prior-year period.
Harley reduced its worldwide shipments of new bikes to 303,479, an 8.2 percent decrease from a year ago. Shipments within the United States, however, fell even more at 14.5 percent. Buell shipments, however, did increase nearly 14 percent to more than 13,000.
“We reduced our production levels prudently in 2008, helping our dealers achieve lower inventory levels,” Harley-Davidson CEO Jim Ziemer said in a press release, “and we’re going to show similar discipline in 2009.”
Revenue for the full year dropped 2.3 percent to $5.59 billion. psb