On the Call: Harley-Davidson CFO John Olin

On the Call: Harley-Davidson CFO John Olin explains weather-related 1Q sales drop

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- Harley-Davidson said Thursday that its first-quarter profit jumped 30 percent as it shipped more motorcycles to dealers worldwide. The Milwaukee company earned $224.1 million, or 99 cents per share, from January through March. The company shipped more than 75,000 motorcycles to dealerships in the quarter, up from 64,000 last year.

But dealers' sales fell 9 percent to 54,254. In the U.S., sales dropped nearly 13 percent, to 34,706. The company blamed the decline on an abnormally warm spring last year in the U.S., which had boosted sales.

Harley books revenue when motorcycles are shipped to dealers.

On a conference call with reporters and industry analysts, Chief Financial Officer John Olin was asked about the weather's effect on dealership sales.

Olin: Last year's first quarter was up 25.5 percent. In last year's first quarter, 25 states were at all-time highs in 118 years, the warmest ever. Another 13 states were the top five warmest in 118 years. Of those 38 states, they virtually accounted for 100 percent of the decline in year-over-year retail sales. And if you take a state like California, where weather was pretty similar on a year-over-year basis, we see that California had solid growth between 2012 and 2013. So again, we're confident that this year's decline of 12.7 percent is weather-driven. And it just happens to be that March is a large month, it's about half the volume for the first quarter. It's really a swing month, and we always say at Harley-Davidson, spring always comes, and it just didn't come in this year's first quarter.

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