Polaris Moves Into the Passing Lane

There's nothing quite like the open road in the summertime -- the wind blowing through your hair and bugs getting lodged in your teeth.

And while Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG  ) is stuck in park because of tsunami-related supply disruptions, Polaris Industries (NYSE: PII  ) moved to the passing lane yesterday. Part of it was the company's blowout earnings report, but part was the announcement that legendary Indian Motorcycle had been acquired by the company.

The heyday of Indian Motorcycle may be long gone, but in an industry where distinctive style and an old-school brands are still meaningful, Polaris may be on to something. Its Victory motorcycles have never made a major dent in the hold that Harley has on the market, but Indian is another story. Indian Motorcycle has a long history that can be appreciated by riders, who appear to be coming back in force. Ducati made a similar comeback in sport bikes, and I think the odds of another comeback are strong.

Indian Motorcycle was held by a private equity firm, and the announcement was short on details -- so we don't know exactly how the company is doing -- but we take cues from at least one press release. In August last year, the company announced that sales were up 80% year over year as it added more dealers worldwide. With the network of Polaris dealers now in the mix, I would think that kind of success could continue.

Recreation is back
The economy may not be back to full strength, but those with disposable income for big-boy toys are back to spending. That means Harley, Polaris, and recreational vehicle manufacturer Thor Industries are back in style again. Polaris has a head start, but if Harley can get its supply issues figured out, it should be back up and running just in time for Sturgis.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdingsor follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

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