Top Auto Reviews

Harley-Davidson Sales are Rolling Again

by on Apr.22, 2013, under Bikes, Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson has experienced more ups and downs than a motocross racer over the years, and Wall Street has had a hard time keeping up.
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Amid booming sales in the mid-1990s, Harley was pronounced a growth stock, on a par with, say, Hewlett-Packard. Then in the late ’90s and early ’00s, orders began outpacing production, and used prices shot up, leading analysts to the conclusion that Harley really ought to be considered a maker of luxury goods, like Tiffany.

That bubble burst in the downturn of 2007-2009 when plummeting sales (down 50% in North America alone) downgraded Harley in the eyes of investors to the ranks of a mere cyclical stock like Ford Motor Company. Now Harley is rolling again after reporting solid increases in revenues and earnings for 2012. Its shares have risen 13.6% in the past six months, and in February, Harley raised its dividend 35.5%. Accordingly, market analysts have reclassified Harley as a dividend growth stock along the lines of companies such as Philip Morris International .

What hasn’t changed over the years is Harley’s consistent and durable devotion to its brand and its century-old history. It single-mindedly focuses on its heritage and traditions, caters to owners who already identify with the brand, and creates endless variations and updates of its existing model range to snare repeat customers. Along with companies like Mercedes-Benz and Rolex, Harley is a master at marketing the past.HD!

Its advertising is studded with words like “legendary,” “heritage,” and “traditional.” Harley products seldom deviate from what is considered the “classic” era of motorcycle styling with its attitude of rebellion. Marlon Brando rode a Triumph, not a Harley, in 1953’s The Wild One, but the outlaw biker image he created has been embraced by Harley ever since. Want to be bold, make no compromises, and never apologize, as the company promises in its ads? Ride a Harley.


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