Photo: Getty Images
Harley Davidson just rattled Wall Street’s windows.
The bad-ass motorcycle brand’s stock — which trades under the ticker symbol HOG — surged 6.4 percent after the company posted a bigger-than-expected profit jump.
Harley execs boasted of especially brisk sales growth overseas, which jumped 11 percent on demand for shiny chrome and spokes in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. The Asia-Pacific region showed the most dramatic jump, with sales up 21 percent.
The Milwaukee-based motorbike icon conquered America’s highways with famously big, burly bikes that required similar riders, and its core customers are still white men over age 35.
Harley, however, is kick starting growth by chasing customers outside the US with lighter, more affordable models such as the Street 500 and the Street 750, which the company began shipping this month.
At home in the US, which accounts for two-thirds of Harley’s business, the motorcycle maker knocked out a 3 percent sales gain.
Execs said the increase was driven partly by their efforts at “outreach” to non-core US customers, including younger men ages 18 to 34, women, Hispanics and blacks.
Indeed, sales to those riders rose twice as fast as sales to older white guys, according to the company.
Profits for the most recent quarter surged 19 percent to $266 million, or $1.21 a share, blowing past analysts’ forecasts despite a harsh winter that kept many riders off the roads and curbed traffic at dealerships.
Overall, quarterly sales rose more than 10 percent to $1.73 billion. Stronger demand in balmier parts of the country, including California, were a “significant” help during the quarter, the company said.
There’s plenty of gas in the tank for 2014, as Harley plans to ship more than 284,000 motorcycles worldwide, up 9 percent from last year.
By James Covert