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Harley profit misses; sees 2019 shipments lowest in 8 years

Harley profit misses; sees 2019 shipments lowest in 8 years
FILE PHOTO - The logo of U.S. motorcycle company Harley-Davidson is seen on one of their models at a shop in Paris, France, August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer   -   Copyright  Philippe Wojazer(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, hit by declining sales in the United States, its biggest market, as its loyal baby boomer customers age, sending its shares down nearly 6 percent.

Harley’s loud, bulky and expensive cruising bikes preferred by baby boomers have not clicked with millennials, as many of them spend on paying off home, auto and student loans.

The company, whose bikes can cost upwards of $28,000, last year unveiled a plan to introduce cheaper, nimbler motorcycles to woo the younger riders.

Harley is also investing to develop electric motorcycles and will launch its first motorcycle without the traditional clutch and gear-shift controls by fall this year.

The company said it expects to ship 217,000 to 222,000 motorcycles in 2019, its lowest in eight years.

Analysts on average were expecting 2019 shipments of 228,190 motorcycles, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

Harley’s U.S. retail motorcycle sales, or sales by dealers to customers, fell 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, more than the 8.3 percent decline expected by analysts.

The company’s total global retail sales were down 6.7 percent.

Harley said it earned 17 cents per share in the quarter. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of 28 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue from motorcycles and related products fell 8.7 percent to $955.6 million (726.08 million pounds).

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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