Harley-Davidson cuts shipments outlook for 2016 – MarketWatch

Harley-Davidson Inc. on Thursday cut its shipments projection for 2016 as it reported its profit sank 43% in the fourth quarter on sluggish demand.

The earnings, however, still beat Wall Street expectations.

The motorcycle maker now expects to ship 1% to 3% more motorcycles this year compared with 2015, down from its prior projection that shipments would rise 3% to 5%.

The company is expected to unveil new models this year and ramp up its marketing campaign by 65%–about $70 million–in an effort to stir excitement about Harley-Davidson’s namesake motorcycles.

Chief Executive Matt Levatich said he expected macroeconomic pressures to continue this year, but was confident the marketing campaign could boost results.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, the company sold fewer motorcycles across its sectors, with the exception of Canada and Asia-Pacific. U.S. sales slumped 3.4%.

Harley nabbed 51.4% of U.S. market share in the quarter, which it said was flat from a year earlier.

A large supply of used Harleys has been putting downward pressure on prices for secondhand bikes, which dealers sell in addition to new models. Attractive prices on used models reduce the allure of new ones, a phenomenon that helped keep demand below the company’s initial expectations for 2015. Meanwhile, the company’s market share has been weighed by competition from rivals such as Yamaha Motor Co. and Polaris Industries Inc.

In all for the quarter, Harley-Davidson reported net income of $42.2 million, or 22 cents a share, down from $74.5 million, or 35 cents a share, in the year-prior period.

Revenue fell 2.3% to $1.01 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 19 cents a share on revenue of $1.03 billion.

Shares, down 17% for the past 12 months, were inactive premarket.

Write to Joshua Jamerson at joshua.jamerson@wsj.com


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