Harley-Davidson, Inc. on Tuesday reported a strong finish to 2011, with improved fourth-quarter performance capping a year of earnings and dealer retail sales growth.
Income from continuing operations was $54.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to a loss of $42.1 million in the year-ago quarter. For the full year 2011, income from continuing operations more than doubled to $548.1 million, compared to income of $259.7 million from continuing operations in 2010.
Retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles grew 10.9 percent worldwide in the fourth quarter compared to the prior-year period, including an 11.8 percent increase in the U.S. For the full year 2011, new Harley-Davidson motorcycle retail sales rose 5.9 percent worldwide and 5.8 percent in the U.S.
On a segment basis, full-year operating income from Motorcycles and Related Products grew 48.2 percent on higher shipment volume and operating margin improvement, while operating income from Financial Services grew 47.8 percent on continued improvement in credit performance, compared to 2010.
"Our improved performance in 2011 is the result of the tremendous efforts of all of our employees, dealers and suppliers," said Keith Wandell, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Inc. "Harley-Davidson is all about fulfilling dreams through remarkable motorcycles and extraordinary customer experiences. In 2011 we made strong progress at transforming our business to be more agile and effective than ever at exceeding customer expectations. The changes underway across the organization will enable Harley-Davidson to be world class and customer led like never before, with shorter product development lead times, flexible manufacturing and an unmatched premium retail experience.
"At retail, we believe the solid improvement in new Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales reflects the strong appeal of our product lineup to a diverse customer base and the great efforts of our dealers, combined with results from our investments in growth opportunities across all regions and improved consumer confidence in the U.S. While we are encouraged by the retail sales trend, we continue to keep a close watch on the marketplace and remain cautious in our expectations for 2012."
On a worldwide basis, dealers sold 40,359 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 10.9 percent increase compared to 36,390 motorcycles sold in the year-ago period. Dealers sold 23,753 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the U.S., an 11.8 percent increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. In international markets, dealers sold 16,606 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the fourth quarter, an increase of 9.7 percent compared to the year-ago period.
For the full year, worldwide retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles increased 5.9 percent to 235,188 units, compared to sales of 222,110 units in 2010. U.S. retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles increased 5.8 percent to 151,683 units, and in international markets sales increased 6.1 percent to 83,505 units, for the full year compared to 2010. Industry-wide U.S. heavyweight new motorcycle (651cc-plus) retail unit sales increased 4.3 percent for the full year, compared to 2010.
Revenue from Motorcycles during the fourth quarter of 2011 of $791.9 million was up 13.5 percent compared to the year-ago period. The company shipped 50,730 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide during the quarter, compared to shipments of 44,481 motorcycles in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Revenue from Motorcycle Parts and Accessories (P&A) totaled $161.2 million during the quarter, up 7.9 percent, and revenue from General Merchandise, which includes MotorClothes Apparel and Accessories, was $69.3 million, up 12.8 percent compared to the year-ago period.
Gross margin was 31.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to 29.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. Fourth-quarter operating margin from motorcycles and related products was 3.5 percent on operating income of $35.6 million. In 2010, the company had an operating loss in the fourth quarter from motorcycles and related products of $6.8 million.
For the full year of 2011, the company shipped 233,117 motorcycles to dealers and distributors, a 10.7 percent increase compared to 210,494 units shipped in 2010.
Revenue from Motorcycles for the full year was $3.55 billion, a 13.3 percent increase compared to the year-ago period. Full-year P&A revenue was $816.6 million, a 9.0 percent increase compared to 2010. General Merchandise revenue was $274.1 million, a 5.8 percent increase compared to 2010.
Gross margin for the full year was 33.4 percent and operating margin was 12.0 percent, compared to 34.2 percent and 9.1 percent respectively in 2010.
The Financial Services segment recorded operating income of $56.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to operating income of $43.5 million in the year-ago quarter. The increase in fourth-quarter operating income was largely the result of continued improvement in credit performance at Harley-Davidson Financial Services. For the full year, operating income from financial services was $268.8 million, compared to operating income of $181.9 million in 2010.
Harley-Davidson expects to ship 240,000 to 245,000 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2012, a 3-5 percent increase compared to 2011. In the first quarter of 2012, the company expects to ship 58,000 to 63,000 motorcycles.