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Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Sales Are Going Through the Floor, Survey Finds

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Sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles this year are falling even faster than expected, according to a survey of the company’s dealers by UBS analysts.

Retail sales of the bikes in 2018 could be down by a double-digit percentage, report the analysts Robin Farley and Arpine Kocharyan. That’s worse than the 8.5% drop in 2017 and would represent the fourth consecutive year of falling U.S. retail sales for Harley.

The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stock in the iconic bike maker (ticker: HOG) has skidded more than 40% since early 2017, when newly elected President Donald Trump feted Harley-Davidson executives at the White House. The shares closed Wednesday at $33.25 apiece.

Younger generations just don’t love Harley’s expensive toys the way that baby boomers did, and as boomers age, a flood of used Harleys are competing for sales with the Milwaukee company’s new products. Hit by Europe’s retaliatory tariffs in Trump’s trade war, Harley plans to move some production abroad, and the president, once a hog booster, has called for a boycott.

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Analysts had generally expected that sales of Harley bikes would fall by a single-digit percentage this year, but the UBS analysts say their channel checks suggest that dealer-level sales dropped by double digits in October and November. And that year-over-year drop is against an easy comparison because 2017 sales were disrupted by hurricanes in key markets like Florida and Texas.

The two months checked by UBS typically account for most of December quarter sales, so the analysts fear that Harley’s own shipments to dealers (which determine the manufacturer’s reported revenue) will fall short of the company’s guidance for the fourth quarter.

Even within a shrinking U.S. market for motorcycles, Harley-Davidson appears to be losing market share to its rivals, says UBS. The analysts say they may have to rethink their already dour forecast for a 2.5% decline in 2019 sales.

Rating the stock as Neutral, UBS has a price target of 40 bucks—well above today’s price. At $33, Harley sells for just 10 times the UBS estimate for the bike maker’s 2019 per-share earnings.

That’s embarrassingly cheap for an American icon.

Source Barrons

Write to Bill Alpert at william.alpert@barrons.com

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2 comments

  1. Well, I guess since your partially blaming Trump for the fall of HD, you should probably give him half credit for Indian Motorcycle’s double digit rise?

    …You just had to go there didn’t you.

    Like

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