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S&P upgrades Harley-Davidson's credit rating

NEW YORK (AP) -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Friday lifted Harley-Davidson Inc.'s credit rating by one notch. The credit ratings agency said that its outlook on the rating is stable.

The credit ratings agency bumped Harley-Davidson higher into investment grade, at "A-" from "BBB+."

Harley-Davidson is recovering since being hit hard by the recession several years ago. It has made production more efficient and got rid of some brands to focus on selling its bigger, premium-priced motorcycles. Its earnings rose 10 percent during the second quarter, thanks to expansion abroad and its revamped production.

Besides making motorcycles, the Milwaukee-based company also provides financing and insurance for customers.

KeyBanc Capital Markets analysts said Thursday that the company's restructuring efforts are paying off lifted their earnings forecast for next year to $4.05 per share from $3.85 per share. Analysts expect $3.87 per share, on average, according to FactSet.

KeyBanc also raised its price target on the stock to $73 from $65.

The company is in the quiet period before earnings and would not comment, said spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim.

Harley-Davidson's shares were little changed Friday, slipping 22 cents to close at $64.28 Friday. Its shares are up about 32 percent since the beginning of the year.