What happened

One day after Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) stock dropped 7% in an apparent bout of investor profit-taking, shares of the motorcycle manufacturer are down again -- and again, down 7% -- in Friday trading as of 1 p.m. EDT.


Chinese flag superimposed on a stock market chart

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Maybe we should ask Wolfe Research that question. As far as I can tell, the only thing shaking with Harley-Davidson stock today, news-wise, is a short note indicating that the company held a conference call with Wolfe Research this morning. No details yet on what was discussed, but it's possible that Harley-Davidson's CFO, who was on the call, let something slip that spooked investors.

Alternatively, it could be China to blame for Harley's sell-off this time around.

As you've probably heard by now, U.S. President Donald Trump, upset with what the coronavirus has done to the U.S. economy, is blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic and threatening "to impose new tariffs on Beijing over the coronavirus crisis," reports Reuters today.

Now what

Now, you might not think that news would concern Harley-Davidson investors overmuch. Harley doesn't sell a lot of bikes into China -- at least, not according to the data I see from S&P Global Market Intelligence. But tariffs on Chinese metals and parts imports might raise Harley's cost of building motorcycles in the U.S. And examining trade moving in the other direction, last year, Harley announced a plan to build small motorcycles in China in partnership with local manufacturer Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. Ltd.

Sales under this agreement were supposed to begin ramping up toward the end of 2020, but if Trump starts another trade war with China, that could throw a monkey wrench into Harley's plans for expanding its China business -- and that could slow international growth, which has been a key area of focus for Harley-Davidson.

Reason enough for a 7% sell-off in Harley-Davidson stock? Investors seem to think so, yes.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.