Harley retail sales seeing single-digit decline in Q3, analyst says

Retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the U.S. have declined low- to mid-single digits in the third quarter to date, compared to the same time a year ago, according to a research note provided to Powersports Business by Wedbush Securities senior vice president Rommel Dionisio.

The Wedbush report followed dealer checks of 65 U.S. Harley-Davidson dealerships. The report attributes the sales decline as “due largely to a shift in timing of new model-year product launches this year.”

Dionisio also writes that sales trends “have begun to see a pickup in early September. Dealers cited the primary reason for year-over-year declines in July and August was the shifted timing of new product launches compared to last year. A year ago, Harley was shipping new model-year 2012 introductions as early as June/July. However, as Harley shut down its largest manufacturing facility earlier this quarter due to a major ERP implementation, it decided to delay the timing of model-year 2013 product launches to late August.”

Dionisio reports that “Harley’s primary Japan-based competitors, especially Honda and Yamaha, along with Suzuki and Kawasaki to a lesser extent, have resumed normal order fulfillment and throughput levels. A year ago, these competitors faced severe supply shortages of imported bikes resulting from last year’s tsunami, thus having provided a temporary window of opportunity for Harley to step up its market share at that time.”

Positive dealer feedback about the new model-year 2013 products “gives us increased confidence in our above consensus forecasts for the second half of 2012 and 2013,” according to Dionisio.

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