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Trump vows to 'reciprocate' against EU tariffs after Harley reports 26.7% drop in profit

Emma Newburger
  • President Trump says European Union tariffs hitting Harley Davidson are "unfair."
  • He pledges to retaliate after the company posted first-quarter profit that fell 26.7%.
  • Harley says falling demand, higher costs from U.S. tariffs on raw materials and European taxes on imports of its motorcycles hurt its earnings.

President Donald Trump appeared to reverse course on Harley Davidson HOG on Tuesday, pledging to retaliate against "unfair" European Union tariffs that the company partially blamed for its 26.7% drop in first-quarter profit.

Trump, who called for a boycott against the motorcycle company last year amid a spat over steel, said in a tweet that the EU tariffs have forced the company to move U.S. jobs overseas. "So unfair to U.S. We will Reciprocate!" he said in a tweet, citing comments by Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo.


Harley announced plans last year to move production of its motorcycles destined for the EU to overseas facilities from the U.S. to avoid EU tariffs imposed in retaliation against Trump's duties on aluminum and steel imports. In response, Trump called for a boycott of the company and threatened higher taxes as retaliation.

The White House and Harley did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. The company is holding a conference call with analysts and the press at 9 a.m. ET.

Harley said Tuesday that falling demand, higher costs from U.S. tariffs on raw materials and European taxes on imports of its motorcycles hurt its earnings.

The company posted adjusted earnings of 98 cents per share, higher than the 65 cents per share forecast by Refinitiv. Its revenue from motorcycles and related products fell 12.3 percent to $1.19 billion.

Excluding the impact of tariffs and restructuring costs, the company said its net income fell to $127.9 million, or 80 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31 from $174.76 million, or $1.03 per share, a year earlier.

Its shares jumped by about 3 percent on the better-than-expected earnings.

Harley has struggled with a drop in sales in the U.S. amid fears that younger buyers are less interested in motorcycles than previous generations. Last quarter, the company's shares tanked after it released earnings that missed analysts' expectations.

The company has been trying to get more people excited about riding motorcycles again. In November, it started to preview its LiveWire electric motorcycle in the U.S. and Europe in an attempt to attract more riders overall, including younger ones.

Harley also unveiled a ten-year plan in 2017 to attract 2 million new riders by 2027. In addition to investing in electric bikes, it's set up schools across the country to teach people how to ride.

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