Harley-Davidson U.S. retail sales on the rise in September, analyst says

Retail sales in the U.S. of Harley-Davidson motorcycles during September “were up in the high single digits” compared to September 2011, “resulting in an estimated 3 percent decline in U.S. retail sales for the full quarter,” according to a research note provided to Powersports Business by RBC Capital Markets analyst Ed Aaron.

Aaron reports that dealer checks performed last week shows that “qualitative feedback from dealers remains mixed, but more good than bad. Despite some concerns over the macro heading into the election and ‘lukewarm’ reception so far to the 2013 models, dealers indicated that supply remains tight and seemed relatively optimistic about their floor traffic and profitability trends.”

Aaron goes on to write that “dealers consistently reported sequentially improved sales growth, and most commented that sales trends strengthened as the month progressed as availability of model-year 2013 bikes improved. Still, most dealers believe that inventories of both new and used models are still on the low side.”

Other takeaways from the research note:

  • Harley’s U.S. retail sales had decelerated in four of the previous five months;
  • Harley’s Q3 international retail growth is estimated at 2.3 percent;
  • Q3 shipments are forecast at 54,339 bikes compared to guidance of 51,000-56,000;

Combined Q3 growth of 2 percent is estimated for P&A and general merchandise sales vs. RBC Capital Markets’ prior estimate of 6 percent growth.

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