MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Harley-Davidson Inc. generated increased earnings and worldwide dealer new motorcycle sales grew for the first quarter of 2011, although U.S. sales were slightly down, according to a release from the company.
The company reported first quarter income from continuing operations of $119.3 million compared to income from continuing operations of $68.7 million in the year-ago period.
Worldwide retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles grew 3.5 percent in the first quarter compared to last year's first quarter. Dealers sold 17,904 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in international markets, an 11.3 percent increase compared to last year's first quarter, and 31,691 new motorcycles in the U.S., down 0.5 percent, compared to the year-ago period.
Industry-wide U.S. heavyweight new motorcycle (651cc-plus) retail unit sales increased 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the year-ago period.
"We are pleased by the growth of our dealers' new motorcycle sales on a worldwide basis, led by strength in Europe, even as we continue to encounter some headwinds in the U.S. related to the challenging macro-economic conditions," Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell said in a release.
The company's improved first-quarter earnings performance was driven by operating income from financial services, which climbed 154.6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010. Operating income from motorcycles and related products was flat, which Harley said was impacted by expected inefficiencies related to the restructuring and implementation of the new operating system at the company's manufacturing operations.
"Our entire team remains focused on transforming our company to be leaner, more agile and more effective than ever at delivering great products and experiences to an increasingly global community of customers," Wandell said. "Harley-Davidson's results for the quarter reflect the continued improvement at HDFS, as well as the near-term inefficiencies related to the transformation underway in manufacturing operations at York. We expect to continue to see an impact on our motorcycles segment financial performance in the coming quarters as we complete the transformation of our York operations. When this manufacturing transition is completed next year, we will have a best-in-class, flexible, lean operating structure that we expect will yield substantial ongoing savings."
Wandell said that despite overall progress, the company is maintaining a cautious outlook for the year.
Click here to read the company's complete first quarter release: Harley Davidson First Quarter Release