Harley Announces Q1 Earnings - Scares a Few

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander
Yesterday, Harley Davidson Announced 1st Quarter Earnings that met or slightly exceeded analyst expectations. However, Harley has revised their forecast for the remainder of '05, reducing the forecasted motorcycle unit sales by 10,000 bikes. Most damaging however, is the fact that they revised their forecasted 2005 earnings growth from 8% to 5%. This was somewhat unexpected and has resulted in an overnight HDI stock plunge in excess of 15% (Currently trading around $48 per share, after closing at $58 yesterday.)

Does this mean doom and gloom for Harley? No, it simply means the investors panicked as usual. The stock should remain fairly strong in the long term. Harley isn't losing money, they continue to have a bright outlook and dumping stock over (now old) news is a silly investment move for people who like to dabble in equities. -Sean

------*PRESS RELEASE*------



Milwaukee, Wis., April 13, 2005 ~ Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE: HDI) today announced record revenue and earnings for its first quarter ended March 27, 2005. Revenue for the quarter was $1.24 billion compared with $1.17 billion in the year-ago quarter, a 6.0 percent increase. First quarter diluted earnings per share (EPS) were 77 cents, a 13.2 percent increase compared with last year's 68 cents.

"As I prepare to take on the role of Chief Executive at Harley-Davidson, I am pleased that the Company is on a strong footing, having achieved another record quarter," said Jim Ziemer, Chief Financial Officer and CEO Elect, Harley-Davidson, Inc. "Looking ahead, we expect Harley-Davidson's business to continue to grow and 2005 to be our 20th consecutive record year."

"At the same time, U.S. retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the first quarter of 2005 have been relatively flat with the same period last year-falling short of our expectations. Despite our continued optimism for the year, we feel it is prudent to limit short-term production growth, maintaining demand in excess of supply. This action will result in a change to our previous guidance for both shipments and earnings growth for 2005. Our shipments are now planned to increase from last year's 317,000 units to a target of 329,000 units compared to our original target of 339,000 units. Our 2005 earnings are expected to grow by approximately 5-8 percent in 2005 compared to our previous forecast of mid-teens earnings growth."

"While this volume adjustment may prevent us from attaining our previous goal of 400,000 units in 2007, we see no reason to change our long-term unit growth projection of 7-9 percent annually based on just three winter months of sales data. Similarly, we are not changing our projection of mid-teens earnings growth other than for this year," Ziemer added.

"For nineteen consecutive years, this management team has delivered record results, and I have the utmost confidence that the actions we are taking are appropriate and in our stakeholders' long-term interests," said Jeff Bleustein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Motorcycles and Related Products Segment

First quarter revenue from Harley-Davidson motorcycles was $979.0 million, an increase of 6.5 percent over the first quarter last year. Shipments of Harley-Davidson motorcycles totaled 76,716 units, up 2,626 units or 3.5 percent over last year.

First quarter revenue from Parts and Accessories (P&A), which consists of Genuine Motor Parts and Genuine Motor Accessories, totaled $176.9 million, a 4.6 percent increase over the year-ago quarter. For the longer term, the Company expects P&A revenue to grow at a rate slightly faster than the motorcycle unit growth rate.

General Merchandise revenue, which consists of MotorClothes® apparel and collectibles, was $59.5 million in the first quarter, up 9.3 percent over the same period last year. For the longer term, the Company expects General Merchandise revenue to grow at a rate lower than the motorcycle unit growth rate.

First quarter gross margin for the Motorcycles and Related Products Segment was 37.6 percent of revenue, approximately the same as the year-ago quarter of 37.8 percent. Gross margin was negatively impacted by higher material costs, primarily metal surcharges; it benefited from favorable foreign currency exchange. Operating margin grew to 24.2 percent from 22.9 percent due to lower operating expenses.

Motorcycle Retail Sales Data

In the United States through March, Harley-Davidson retail motorcycle sales finished down approximately one percent compared to 2004. Similarly, the U. S. heavyweight motorcycle market declined 0.4 percent in the first quarter.

Worldwide retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles grew 2.8 percent for the quarter, driven by strong performance in Europe and Japan, which increased 20.6 and 10.6 percent respectively. On an industry-wide basis through February 2005, the 651+cc segment grew slightly in Europe, while the heavyweight market in Japan was down for the same period. Data is listed in the accompanying tables.

Financial Services Segment

Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS) reported operating income of $53.6 million, up $3.3 million or 6.5 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. HDFS continued to experience strong customer acceptance of its financial products.

During the quarter, HDFS sold $730 million in retail motorcycle loans and recorded a gain of $19.2 million. This compares with a gain of $25.2 million on $625 million of loans securitized during the first quarter of 2004. The gain of 2.6 percent as a percentage of loans sold is slightly above management's guidance which is now 1.7 to 2.5 percent in the current interest rate environment.

Annualized credit losses on a managed portfolio basis increased during the quarter to 1.07 percent in 2005 from 0.77 percent in 2004 due to the combination of a higher incidence of losses and lower recovery rates. HDFS is maintaining its credit loss target of 1 percent or less of managed receivables.

In 2005, HDFS operating income is expected to be slightly lower than that achieved in 2004 primarily due to a highly competitive marketplace and an increasing interest rate environment. For the longer term, the Company expects the HDFS operating income growth rate to be slightly higher than the Company's motorcycle unit growth rate.

Stock Option Accounting

On January 1, 2005 the Company adopted new accounting rules requiring it to recognize expense related to the fair value of its employee stock option awards. Total stock compensation expense recognized by the Company during the first quarter of 2005 was $7.0 million.

Cash Flow

Operations generated cash of $51.7 million during the first quarter of 2005 compared to $161.2 million during last year's first quarter. During the first quarter of 2005, the Company made a voluntary cash contribution of $102.3 million to post-retirement health care trusts to pre-fund retiree benefits. This contribution allows the investment earnings to grow tax free within the trusts.

Stock Repurchase

The Company repurchased 2.9 million shares of its common stock at a cost of $175.8 million during the first quarter of 2005.

Shipment Guidance

Harley-Davidson is revising its previous guidance and now plans to ship 329,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles in 2005. This 329,000 unit target represents a 3.7 percent growth rate over 2004 shipments. The Company believes that this 10,000 unit reduction will occur almost entirely in the second quarter and will involve reducing planned production of 2005 Model Year motorcycles. Revised quarterly shipments are expected to be as follows: 77,000 units in the second quarter, 87,500 units in the third quarter and 87,500 units in the fourth quarter.

Company Background

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company for the group of companies doing business as Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Buell Motorcycle Company and Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the only major U.S.-based motorcycle manufacturer, produces heavyweight motorcycles and offers a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories, apparel, and general merchandise. Buell Motorcycle Company produces sport motorcycles. Harley-Davidson Financial Services provides wholesale and retail financing and insurance programs to Harley-Davidson dealers and customers.

Forward-Looking Statements

The Company intends that certain matters discussed in this release are "forward-looking statements" intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can generally be identified as such because the context of the statement will include words such as the Company "believes," "anticipates," "expects," "plans," or "estimates" or words of similar meaning. Similarly, statements that describe future plans, objectives, outlooks, targets, guidance or goals are also forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated as of the date of this release. Certain of such risks and uncertainties are described below. Shareholders, potential investors, and other readers are urged to consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements and cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included in this release are only made as of the date of this release, and the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

The Company's ability to meet the targets and expectations noted depends upon, among other factors, the Company's ability to (i) continue to realize production efficiencies at its production facilities through the implementation of innovative manufacturing techniques and other means, (ii) successfully implement production capacity increases in its facilities, (iii) successfully introduce new products and services, (iv) avoid unexpected supply chain issues, (v) sell all of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles it plans to produce, (vi) continue to develop the capacity of its distributor and dealer network, (vii) avoid unexpected changes in the regulatory environment for its products, (viii) successfully adjust to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and commodity prices, (ix) adjust to worldwide economic and political conditions, and (x) successfully manage the credit quality of HDFS's loan portfolio.

In addition, the Company could experience delays in the operation of manufacturing facilities as a result of work stoppages, natural causes, terrorism or other factors. Risk factors are also disclosed in documents previously filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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