As expected, this morning Harley-Davidson reported strong gains in earnings and dealer new motorcycle sales for the first quarter of 2012. As buyers become more comfortable with spending and interest rates remain low the consumer focus has shifted from used to new motorcycles. A flash of warm weather in winter in the US has also contributed to a hefty increase in Harley-Davidson’s U.S. business.
Retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles grew 20.3 percent worldwide in the quarter compared to the prior-year period, led by a 25.5 percent increase in the U.S. Retail Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Sales On a worldwide basis: dealers sold 59,677 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the first quarter of 2012, a 20.3 percent increase compared to 49,595 motorcycles sold in the year-ago period. In the US, Dealers sold 39,762 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a 25.5 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2011. In international markets, dealers sold 19,915 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the first quarter, an increase of 11.2 percent compared to the year-ago period.
“Through Harley-Davidson’s transformation to world-class manufacturing, product development and retail capabilities, we are positioning the Company to serve our customers even better and help ensure the strength of the business long term,” said Keith Wandell Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc.
Revenue from Motorcycle Parts and Accessories (P&A) totaled $199.1 million during the quarter, up 21.1 percent, and revenue from General Merchandise, which includes MotorClothes® Apparel and Accessories, was $74.6 million, up 19.2 percent compared to the year-ago period.
Gross margin was 35.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared to 33.1 percent in the first quarter of 2011. First-quarter operating margin from motorcycles and related products was 16.3 percent on operating income of $208.1 million, compared to operating income of $125.1 million and operating margin of 11.8 percent in last year’s first quarter.
Harley-Davidson is increasing its full-year shipment guidance and expects to ship 245,000 to 250,000 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2012, compared to prior shipment guidance of 240,000 to 245,000 motorcycles. The new shipment guidance reflects consumer demand and the Company’s limited ability to produce additional motorcycles in 2012. In the second quarter of 2012, the Company expects to ship 79,000 to 84,000 motorcycles.
In 2011, for the fourth straight year, Harley-Davidson was the U.S. market share leader among young adults ages 18-34, women, African American and Hispanic riders, as well as among its core rider group, across all displacements of on-road motorcycles, according to recently available data. More than one-third of new Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales in the U.S. in 2011 were to riders new to the brand, and in the EMEA region, more than two-thirds were new to the brand.