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Harley-Davidson $1.6 billion investment plan raises earnings concerns

Harley-Davidson $1.6 billion investment plan raises earnings concerns
FILE PHOTO: A Harley-Davidson Inc. logo is seen at the Paris auto show in Paris, France, October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo -
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BENOIT TESSIER(Reuters)
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By Rajesh Kumar Singh

(Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc <HOG.N> said on Tuesday it would invest as much as $1.6 billion (1.3 billion pounds) over the next four years to turn around its business, raising concerns about its earnings and sending its shares lower.

In a presentation to investors, the company said its capital spending would range between $200 million and $250 million a year through 2022, including $225 million to $275 million to develop electric, middle and lightweight bikes.

Additionally, it would make an “operating investment” of $450 million to $550 million.

Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA, said the investments would reduce Harley’s cash flow and pressure earnings.

“A lot of analysts had not included these kinds of numbers in their (earnings) estimates,” he said.

Harley’s shares were last trading down 3.7% at $34.11 in afternoon trade.

The Milwaukee-based company has been struggling to increase sales in the United States, its biggest market, where its core baby boomer customers are ageing and efforts to attract new and young riders have yet to show results.

To offset weak demand at home, it is trying to make deeper inroads into some of the fastest growing two-wheeler markets in Asia through lightweight motorcycles. The push is part of a strategy to get half of the company’s revenue from overseas by 2027.

The company, known for its heavy touring motorcycles, expects the investment strategy to generate more than $1 billion of incremental annual revenue in 2022 as compared with 2017.

Harley expects the plan will expand its operating margins and add up to $250 million in operating profit in 2022.

The motorcycle maker said it would cut costs and reallocate resources to fund the investments.

(Additional reporting by Dominic Roshan K.L. in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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