Sales of Harley-Davidson (HOG -0.21%) motorcycles are roaring back to life, according to one Wall Street analyst who believes that's worth lifting his price target on the stock from $55 per share to $60, or 20% above where the bike maker's stock closed on Thursday.
Wedbush analyst James Hardiman tells investors in a research note that his channel checks show Harley-Davidson is gaining traction among motorcycle buyers again. April sales were running 5% to 7% above the levels they hit in 2019 while May sales were sprinting higher by low double-digit rates.
If those figures pan out, it could mean the motorcycle manufacturer truly has found the bottom of its yearslong sales slide.
Investors have been burned before by overly optimistic assessments of Harley-Davidson's ability to pull out of its sales decline, but there could be something this time to Hardiman's bullishness.
First-quarter U.S. sales surged 30% from the year-ago period, not especially surprising considering 2020 was marred by the global pandemic, yet they were also 10% above 2019 levels. Profits were even stronger, quadrupling year over year.
COVID-19 aside, Harley-Davidson is in a much better place than it was last year or even the year before. CEO Jochen Zeitz has narrowed the bike maker's global ambitions, retained its focus on the U.S. market, and is committed to introducing a smaller lineup of new models while also taking Harley further into the world of electric vehicles.
And by all accounts, the recently introduced Pan America 1250 adventure touring bike is turning heads and causing people to open their wallets, too. It's a new vertical for Harley and a new style, and one that was achieved while not abandoning its heritage.
A few weeks remain in the current quarter, but this could be where Harley-Davidson opens up the throttle again.