Killer Companies: Harley-Davidson hits the throttle

The iconic motorcycle maker recently reported disappointing fourth-quarter results, but investors are confident that Harley will keep humming.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 8, 2013 1:13PM

Harley-Davidson (HOG) has the wind at its back. The gradual economic recovery combined with manufacturing changes aimed at making the motorcycle maker more efficient are helping the top and bottom lines.


Plus, Harleys remain as popular as ever and will continue to sell well as the baby boomers who yearned for them after watching "Easy Rider" can now afford to ride off into retirement on their dream bike.

Harley-Davidson expects to ship 259,000 to 264,000 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2013 -- a nice jump from 2012. Shipments in the first quarter will likely surge by 18%, reaching as high as 76,000 -- a remarkable figure given the current economic uncertainty. The company also reported improvements in both gross and operating margins. That's good news as well. 


Even Goldman Sachs, which recently downgraded Harley shares because of concerns they were getting expensive, noted that the company's finances were healthy and that it should continue to increase sales.


The stock isn't cheap, but it hasn't reached truly frothy levels. HOG shares are trading at a price-to-earnings multiple of 19.78, well under the five-year high of 83.32. Analysts' average 52-week price target is $59, about 9% higher than where the stock recently traded.


Investors might want to wait for the price to pull back some before adding HOG to their portfolio. But when it comes to investing, people rarely go wrong if they stick with iconic brands. And while Harley won't always live up to its "born to be wild" theme, its strong track record says it should be a solid performer in the coming months -- and years.

Mar 8, 2013 5:26PM
It is good to see that an American company is doing well. I do enjoy riding my HOG.
Mar 8, 2013 5:24PM
We love our Ultra Glide! It is a beautiful ride and comfy for the wifey! I love the accessories that go along with it but they can be extremely expensive. Here is a prime example of paying for the name but this is a name one can trust for quality and resale value.
Mar 8, 2013 6:39PM
had one in 71 think it was the first 1000 sportster year.every 6000mi needed a top end job fell apart,  traded it in on a vw bug
Mar 8, 2013 8:12PM

I don’t understand why everyone is complaining about H-D here, mine is a daily driver and I have not had any problems at all for the last two years of operation. My only complaint is the cost of accessories and that washing it thoroughly takes some time.

Mar 8, 2013 7:59PM
Bought a new Harley Davidson Tri Glide Trike in 2010 after a pill head trashed out my 100 anniversary model Electro Glide, with me on it. Love it, great touring Harley, big rocking chair for the xyl and plenty of storage!
Mar 8, 2013 5:25PM
They produce a good product and sell it at a realistic price: of course they're going to be doing well
Mar 10, 2013 3:25PM
Ride what you like, for whatever reason you like it. 
Mar 8, 2013 8:39PM
Long live Harleys & victorys, the rest are for the ladys 
Mar 8, 2013 5:56PM
I don't know. I recently paid off my Harley and question whether I'll ever by another again. The ride is rough. Maintenance is outrageously expensive. AND... my bike has NEVER run properly. The battery dies easily. I've had the the battery replaced on average every 16 months. Three different dealerships and thousands of dollars and STILL it's effed up. Doesn't really make me want another.
Mar 8, 2013 6:37PM
I'm glad Harley is doing well, but if you want to buy a "real motorcycle' and not some a Victory...Much better overall bike.....
Mar 8, 2013 5:59PM
I've always ridden Harleys, but it is my conclusion that they haven't made a good one since 1972. So if you want to ride a good bike, just buy an old hog and rebuild it right. Otherwise, forget 'em. The dealerships are ****s.
Mar 8, 2013 6:18PM

Ninety-five percent of Harley-Davidson's ever built are still on the road today.


The other five-percent made it home.


Hardley-Ableson ..... Tomorrows dollars for yesterdays technology.

Mar 8, 2013 8:30PM

harleys are garbage. Always have been.


Nothing more than a small d*ck image.

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