What happened 

Shares of motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson Inc (NYSE:HOG) jumped as much as 5.1% in trading Tuesday after reporting first-quarter 2018 results that weren't as bad as expected. That may not sound like much but the market had feared that guidance for 2018 was going to be reduced and when it wasn't investors piled back into the stock. But the gains didn't last with shares only up 1.9% on the day at 2:40 p.m. EDT.

So what

The first quarter wasn't about Harley-Davidson reporting outstanding results, it was more like relief results weren't terrible. Revenue was up 2.7% to $1.36 billion and net income fell 6.2% to $174.8 million, or $1.03 per share. Estimates from Wall Street were for $1.23 billion in revenue and just $0.90 per share.

A close-up view of the front of a motorcycle being ridden down the street with a second motorcycle being ridden behind it.

Image source: Getty Images.

For the full year, motorcycle shipment guidance was kept steady at 231,000 to 236,000 units, down from 241,498 shipments in 2017, and management said they expect operating income to be flat to down modestly. Sometimes even a down year is enough to please investors.

Now what

Harley-Davidson is investing heavily in revamping its product line to excite customers once again, and on the surface it seems like the strategy is working. The company is hitting sales goals and investors seem happy with that, despite falling shipments. I'd like to see the top and bottom line be stable or growing before jumping into the stock given the risk of a cyclical business like Harley-Davidson. But traders are pushing past those concerns today and that's why the stock was up early in trading.

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