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Citi analyst says Harley 1Q sales hurt by weather

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Citi analyst said Wednesday that it appears Harley-Davidson Inc. sales took a hit in March as a result of bad weather, but appear to be on the rise this month.

THE OPINION: Gregory Badishkanian said that based on his firm's checks with Harley dealers, the company's sales fell between 12 and 14 percent in March, which marked a further drop from an estimated "mid-single digit" decrease in January and February.

Badishkanian, who backed his "Buy" rating and $61 price target for the stock, said that as a result, he expects Harley's second-quarter sales to be down between 8 percent and 10 percent for the overall quarter.

The analyst said he thinks that the entire decrease is a result of tough weather comparisons. In announcing its first quarter 2012 results, Harley credited early spring weather with boosting its sales. But weather in the first quarter of 2013 has been less-than-ideal for motorcycle riding and in turn probably hurt sales, Badishkanian said.

He added that based on early information from dealers, sales appear to be trending up so far in April.

THE SHARES: Up 89 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $52.05 in midday trading. Over the past 52 weeks, Harley shares have traded between $37.84 and $55.51.

Since the beginning of this year, Harley shares have gained about 5 percent.