Harley-Davidson Q4 profit skids 26.3% on weak U.S. sales

Harley-Davidson hog said Friday that its fourth-quarter profit tumbled 26.3% due to slumping U.S. motorcycle sales it attributed to a weak economy.

CEO Jim Ziemer called the retail environment "challenging" for this year. The company expects moderate growth in both earnings per share and revenue, however.

Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 totaled $186.1 million, or 78 cents a share, compared with a profit of $252.4 million, or 97 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue dropped 7.7% to $1.39 billion.

Analysts had expected a profit of 82 cents a share on revenue of $1.34 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Financial. The earnings estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Worldwide retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles were down 6.1% in the quarter, and 14.2% in the U.S. The company said the domestic heavyweight motorcycle market was down 9% in the quarter. Overseas, Harley's sales were up 17.4%.

Harley's shipments were down 12.5% to 81,206 units, a drop of 11,642 units.

For the year, profit fell to $933.8 million, of $3.74 a share, from $1.04 billion, or $3.93 a share, in 2006. Revenue slipped 1.3% to $5.73 billion.

Worldwide sales fell 1.8% in 2007, while U.S. sales were down 6.2%. The overall heavyweight market was down 5% for the year, Harley said. Internationally, Harley's sales finished the year up 13.7%.

Shipments for the year were down http://floridatitleresearch.com/blog/2015/07/28/motorbike-helmets-better-way-keep-safe/ 5.3% to 330,619 motorcycles. Harley-Davidson cut its bike shipments in the wake of expected falling sales and even idled its plants for a week in November.

First quarter shipments are expected to be between 68,000 and 72,000 bikes, compared with 67,761 units in the first quarter of 2007.

Ziemer said Harley will monitor its wholesale shipments throughout the year.

For the year, Harley-Davidson said it expects moderate revenue growth and earnings per share growth of 4% to 7% compared to 2007.

The company bought back 20.4 million shares of its stock in 2007 at a cost of $1.15 billion.