Polaris Says Indian Motorcycle Turned A Profit For the First Time
Sixth straight quarter of growing gross profit margin
Polaris Industries reported its fourth quarter and 2023 fiscal year results and, while the news isn’t entirely great, there was one significant positive development: Indian Motorcycle turned a profit this year.
Yes, for the first time since it acquired Indian in 2011, Polaris says the storied brand made a profit. The earnings report didn’t go into specific numbers, as Indian’s results were lumped together with Polaris’ other on-road brands including Slingshot, electric utility vehicle brand Goupil, and European quadricycle brand Aixam. But on its own, Polaris says Indian Motorcycle achieved its first year of profitability in 2023.
We do know that Indian’s gross profit margin improved by nearly 600 basis points in the final quarter (i.e. up almost 6%), for its sixth consecutive quarter of growth of more than 250 basis points. By comparison, Polaris' entire on-road segment saw a 323 basis point decrease in gross profit margin over the same quarter due to warranty costs for Goupil.
While making a profit is good news, other metrics were less positive. Indian retail sales were down 24% in the final quarter, and down in the high-teens year-over-year. For the full year, Polaris claimed Indian gained in market share, but its share of the North American market saw a modest decline in the fourth quarter to around 11%.
Indian’s heavyweight models marked the bulk of the loss in share, as its mid-sized models actually gained in market share over the final quarter. We don’t have enough information to know for certain, but it’s possible some of that growth in the mid-sized segment may be a reflection of Harley-Davidson discontinuing its air-cooled Sportster models. In a vacuum, that’s good news, but as Bob Mack, Polaris’ chief financial officer pointed out during the company’s presentation, heavyweights carry a little more gross margin than the mid-sized models.
Looking ahead to 2024, Polaris hinted at some new product launches coming this year across all of its segments. That presumably includes new Indian models. We’ve got some suspicions about what might be coming, but we’ll wait for some more evidence before reporting anything.
Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.
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