Dec. 29, 2003 – Finance Digest

Harley Doubles Quarterly Dividends
Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HDI) approved a quarterly cash dividend of 8 cents per share, payable Dec. 29, 2003 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 15, 2003. This represents a 100% increase over the last quarterly dividend.
“The recent change in tax law has increased the attractiveness of dividends as a way of sharing the success of the company with our shareholders,” said Jeffrey L. Bleustein, chairman and CEO. The company currently has approximately 302 million shares of common stock outstanding.


Featherlite sets up Partnership
Featherlite Inc. (Nasdaq:FTHR) said it has been named the exclusive dealer in the state of Florida of Foretravel Luxury Motorhomes. Featherlite Luxury Coaches’ sales and service center in Sanford, Fla., will carry the full line of Foretravel Motorhomes along with offering warranty, parts and service to Foretravel customers.


Dana to sell Aftermarket Group
In a move to sharpen Dana Corporation’s (NYSE:DCN) focus on the original equipment marketplace, the company said that it intends to sell its Automotive Aftermarket Group. The move will enable the company to leverage its strengths in product and process technology, said Bill Carroll, Dana’s acting president and CEO.
Dana’s Automotive Aftermarket Group produces and markets a broad line of replacement products, including Raybestos brakes, Wix filters, and a variety of under-vehicle components. The group reported sales of approximately $2.2 billion in 2002.
“We believe Dana will be best served as we dedicate our resources to providing innovative systems solutions to the light vehicle, commercial vehicle, and off-highway markets,” Carroll said.


GE Finance, Aprilia Launch Programs
GE Retail Sales Finance has launched national credit programs for Aprilia and Moto Guzzi motorcycles, accessories and apparel. Customers can apply for closed-end financing on any new Aprilia or Moto Guzzi model, as well as instant credit financing on an Aprilia or Moto Guzzi branded credit card.
The new programs are being launched through more than 250 Aprilia and Moto Guzzi dealer locations nationwide. Designed to provide dealers and customers with greater financing options, the programs are also expected to build greater brand loyalty and repeat business.
The programs, offering both closed-end and revolving credit, are expected to help drive sales of scooters and motorcycles, as well as apparel and accessories.
The programs for both brands include low merchant discount rates for revolving promotional financing, prompt funding of sales, seasonal manufacturer sponsored promotions and comprehensive customer service, the companies said in a joint announcement.
“Through GE, we can offer our Aprilia and Moto Guzzi dealers and their customers some very exciting financing programs that are sure to motivate the two wheel consumer,” said Tom McDonald, vice chairman and general manager of Aprilia World Service USA.
“From the almost instant revolving card to long-term,12-to-72 month loan options, we will offer financing that is very competitive and industry leading,” he said.


Redline Announces 2Q Results
Redline ended its second quarter with no revenues for the period ending Sept. 30, 2003. Net loss for the quarter was $1.2 million, or 25 cents per diluted share. During the same period last year, the company had a net loss of $622,416 or 44 cents per diluted share.
For the first six months, the company reported a net loss of $3.5 million, or 94 cents per diluted share. In the first six months of last year, the company had a net loss of $1.3 million, or 90 cents per diluted share.
The higher year-to-year losses are due in part to higher selling, general and administrative expense and higher research and development costs, the company said.


Deere 2003 income doubles 2002
Deere & Company, Moline, Ill., reported worldwide net income of $70.6 million, or 27 cents per share, for the fourth quarter and $643.1 million, or $2.64 per share, for the year ended Oct. 31. This compares with net income of $68.0 million, or 28 cents per share, and $319.2 million, or $1.33 per share, respectively, last year.
“Deere & Company’s 2003 results provide continuing evidence that our plans for building a better business are working,” said Robert W. Lane, chairman and CEO. “The success of new products and ongoing efforts to manage costs and asset intensity were evident in our results for the full year. Improved market conditions also contributed to the stronger performance of our construction and forestry and commercial and consumer equipment (C&CE) divisions.”
The C&CE division builds and markets utility vehicles and mowing equipment. It also markets ATVs built for it by Bombardier.
Worldwide net sales and revenues grew 14% to $3.939 billion for the fourth quarter as compared to a year ago and increased 11% to $15.535 billion for the year. Net sales were $3.375 billion for the quarter and $13.349 billion for the year, compared with $2.947 billion and $11.703 billion, respectively, last year.
Net sales for both periods increased primarily due to higher physical volumes of commercial and consumer equipment and construction and forestry equipment.
In the C&CE division, compared with last year, sales were up 21% for the quarter and 19% for the year.
The increases were primarily due to strong retail demand for recently introduced products and the impact of expanded distribution channels, the company said.
The division had an operating loss of $10 million for the quarter and an operating profit of $227 million for the year, compared with an operating loss of $19 million and an operating profit of $79 million, respectively, in the prior year.
The quarter’s improvement was primarily due to higher sales, partially offset by lower production volumes, higher promotional and support costs related to new products, and higher retirement benefit costs of $7 million.
Improved results for the year were due to higher sales and production volumes, partially offset by higher promotional and support costs and higher post-retirement benefit costs of $31 million. Results in 2002 were negatively affected by restructuring costs related to the closure of certain facilities.
Sales for the full 2004 fiscal year are expected to increase between 9% and 11%, the company said, and net income is forecast to be in a range of $750 million to $850 million. Deere’s net equipment sales for the first quarter of 2004 are currently forecast to be up approximately 25% in comparison with depressed sales levels in the first quarter of 2003, although production levels are expected to increase only 9% to 11% for the first quarter. Company-wide net income for the first quarter in 2004 is expected to be in a range of $100 million to $150 million. Excluding the impact of currency and price, sales are expected to increase 18% to 20% for the quarter and 6% to 8% for the year.
In its C&CE business, the company forecasts its commercial and consumer equipment sales to continue benefiting from the success of new products. As a result, division sales are forecast to be up between 10% to 12% for the year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*