Iconic motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) shares jumped 19.76% closing at $54.25 on Friday, its biggest gain in seven years. The move, which brought Harley’s market value to $9.8 billion on July 1, 2016, was attributed to renewed speculation of a possible $10 billion buyout bid by private equity giant KKR & Co. LP (NYSE: KKR).
Volume soared to 23 million shares, which was more than 10 times the full-day average, and the highest level since Oct. 20, 2015, fueled by rumors reported by The Fly, said MarketWatch.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson Inc., the parent company for the groups of companies doing business as Harley-Davidson Motor Company (HDMC) and Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS), is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles, and related products and merchandise.
Founded in 1903, Harley-Davidson manufactures its motorcycles at factories in York, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kansas City, Missouri; Manaus, Brazil; and Bawal, India — and markets its products worldwide, including the Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific.
The company generated annual revenue of roughly $6 billion in 2015, compared to $6.2 billion in 2014. However, during the first quarter of 2016, the company experienced a 4.5% increase in international motorcycle sales, while US sales slowed due to increased competition. It saw motorcycle/products revenues of $1.58 billion during the first quarter, more than the $1.50 billion that analysts expected, although sales in Latin America plunged 26.5%.
“I am pleased with how our first quarter results demonstrate the progress we’re making in both driving demand and delivering business performance in a highly competitive environment,” Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich said in the company’s Q1, 2016 earnings release.
“Harley-Davidson’s stock price has been declining since last year,” Zacks Equity Research noted. “This is the possible reason behind the takeover. The company is facing challenges due to a strong U.S. dollar and increased competition. In fact, these hurdles have resulted in the reduction of more than 200 workers and a $70 million investment for marketing and product development.”
“In addition, Harley-Davidson has been witnessing declining retail sales of new motorcycles,”Zacks added. “This has adversely affected its revenues and market share. In 2016, management expects stiff competition to hurt retail sales, as competitors rely on discounts and product introduction to boost sales.”
The company’s products are marketed to retail customers under various brands, including HARLEY-DAVIDSON, H-D, HARLEY, the Bar & Shield, MOTORCLOTHES, the MotorClothes Logo, HARLEY OWNERS GROUP, H.O.G., the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.), SOFTAIL, SPORTSTER and V-ROD. The company distributes its motorcycles and related products to a network of independent dealers located in over 95 countries across the world.
The company’s Harley-Davidson Riding Academy offers a series of rider education experiences that provide both new and experienced riders by teaching basic and advanced motorcycling skills and knowledge.
The Financial Services segment consists of HDFS, which provides wholesale and retail financing and insurance, and insurance-related programs to the Harley-Davidson dealers and their retail customers.
As one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression (along with Indian), the company has survived numerous ownership changes and corporate restructurings and reorganizations, periods of poor economic health and product quality, as well as intense global competition — to become the world’s fifth largest motorcycle manufacturer and an iconic brand widely known for its loyal following — with owner clubs and events worldwide, as well as a company sponsored brand-focused museum.
Noted for a style of customization that gave rise to the chopper motorcycle style, Harley-Davidson traditionally marketed heavyweight, air-cooled cruiser motorcycles with engine displacements greater than 700 cc — and has broadened its offerings to include its more contemporary VRSC (2001) and middle-weight Street (2014) platforms.