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Bear Of The Day: Harley-Davidson (HOG)

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Harley-Davidson (HOG - Free Report) just posted its worst 2nd quarter sales figures since 2011 as this firm continues its descent into the abyss. HOG has lost over 35% of its value in the past 5 years, and sell-side analysts continue to lower EPS estimates pushing this stock into a Zacks Rank #5.

The primary issue with Harley-Davidson is its aging demographic. Millennials are now the largest consuming generation they are not interested in the archaic gas-guzzling chopper. Millennials are much more likely to buy a smaller crotch rocket that is likely electric because this generation is saving the planet from the devastating climate change.

Harley is attempting to pivot with the shifting consumer. The firm has an electric motorcycle in their product line that is being marketed to the millennial, but the issue is the Harley brand. It is not easy to shift a brand image that has been instilled in Americans for as long as Harley-Davidson has.

Harley hit its peak levels of profitability in 2006 with its net income exceeding $1 billion. This year its bottom-line could be less than half of that figure as demand slows substantially. Gross and net margins have been falling quickly as the firm’s economies of scale start to reverse with decreasing volume. The company is expected to continue to decelerate. This year is expected to see a double-digit EPS decline along with a roughly 7% drop in sales.

Take Away

Harleys and bulkier motorcycles have entered the declining phase in their products long cycle. There is not a lot that Harley can do short of completely revamping its image, which would take a significant amount of capital. An economic downturn would further deteriorate this consumer-discretionary company’s financials. Harley is highly leveraged, which adds volatility to this already declining security.

At best, Harley will be forced to discount its vehicles to drive more demand. In the long run, I see this stock falling further as its products decline deepens.


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