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Home / Transportation / Harley-Davidson posts first quarterly loss in 16 years (7:55 a.m. 1/22/10)

Harley-Davidson posts first quarterly loss in 16 years (7:55 a.m. 1/22/10)

NEW YORK (AP) — Harley-Davidson Inc. reported a fourth-quarter loss Friday, its first quarterly deficit in 16 years, as restructuring costs and the sluggish economy wore on the motorcycle maker.

Harley-Davidson has spent the last year reorganizing its business to cope with falling demand of its high-end bikes. It has been laying off employees, closing factories and discontinuing or selling unwanted brands.

The company’s results during the quarter ended Dec. 31 were worse than Wall Street was expecting. The company lost money — its first three-month loss since 1993 — even when accounting for only its continuing operations. It also lost money for the full year.

Harley-Davidson said it lost $218.7 million, or 94 per share, during the fourth quarter. That contrasts to a profit of $77.8 million, or 34 cents per share, a year ago.

Quarterly revenue tumbled 40 percent to $764.5 million from $1.28 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, whose results typically excluding one-time items, were expecting a loss of 32 cents per share on $764.4 million in revenue.

The company said it expects to take restructuring charges into 2012. All told, its restructuring efforts will cost $430 million to $460 million. For 2010 alone, the cost will be between $175 million and $195 million.

Harley-Davidson has been come under pressure over the last year as the tight credit markets and the weak economy led consumers to shun purchases of its high-end motorcycles. The company has been aggressively restructuring to cope with what it sees as a weaker market.

Last month, it announced it would close one of its two factories in York, Pa., and lay off nearly half the unionized work force there of about 1,950. The York facility is Harley’s main motorcycle production center, manufacturing its Touring and Softail bikes.

However, the company got a new, seven-year labor agreement out of the York facility that it said gives it greater flexibility and lower costs.

In October, Harley said it would sell the Italian premium sport-bike maker MV Agusta, which it acquired in 2008 for about $109 million. It also said it would discontinue its Buell line of sport bikes. Harley said it wanted to focus solely on its namesake motorcycles, on which it generates better returns.

Harley said shipments of its bikes to dealers during the year fell 27 percent to 223,023. For 2010, Harley said it expects shipments to fall another 5 to 10 percent to between 201,000 and 212,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

For all of 2009, Harley-Davidson lost $55.1 million, or 24 cents per share. It earned $654.7 million, or $2.79 per share, the previous year.

Yearly revenue fell by more than a fifth to $4.29 billion from $558 billion a year earlier.

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