Visitors at a Harley-Davidson showroom in Maryland, US. Reuters
Harley-Davidson reported a decline in quarterly motorcycle revenue that outpaced Wall Street’s estimates as retail sales in the United States dived again, sending its shares lower.
Motorcycle revenue fell an annual 8.5% to $874.1 million in the December quarter, faster than a 3.4% fall predicted by analysts in a Refinitiv survey.
Its shares, after falling as much as 7%, pared losses to trade 2.5% lower at $33.96.
Harley has for years failed to increase sales in the United States, its top market, which accounts for more than half of its motorcycles sold. As its tattooed, baby-boomer base ages, the Milwaukee-based company is finding it challenging to woo new customers.
Its bike sales in America last year were the lowest in at least 16 years. Falling sales in the past 12 quarters have forced the company to tighten the supply of its bikes to prevent price discount pressure and protect profit.
In 2019, the shipment volume of its bikes in the United States was the lowest in at least two decades. Global shipments were the lowest since 2010.
In a reflection of the demographic headwind, the motorcycle maker’s stock price has declined by 44% in the past five years. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index has gained 63%.
Chief Executive Matthew Levatich is betting on building riders and new launches including battery-powered bikes to turn around the company’s fortunes in the domestic market.
The results have been elusive thus far. US sales are forecast to fall again this year.
Levatich told analysts the challenges were “significant” as Harley’s heavy and expensive bikes were competing for “people’s scarce time, people’s scarce funding and commitment.”