There's no real shortage of dissenting opinions on motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson
And, to some extent at least, they may both be right, depending on the time frame you wish to use.
Certainly this wasn't a stellar quarter for Harley (though no one thought it would be). Revenue was up barely more than 3%, and operating income and net income were both up by basically similar amounts. There wasn't any particular margin strength to be seen, and EPS growth was largely a product of share buybacks.
Looking at the shipment and retail sales numbers, dealers continue to work through their inventories. Harley shipped only about 3.5% more bikes this quarter than last year, but the retail dealer network sold 10% more. Interestingly, the company experienced a retail inventory drawdown in the U.S. (where shipment growth was below retail sales growth), but the reverse overseas (where shipments were up almost 20% versus 17% sales growth).
Although Harley-Davidson sells a distinct and much-loved product, let's not pretend there is no competition. I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd only consider a Harley when buying a new bike, but there are many others who'll check out the offerings from Polaris
So long as you believe that Harley-Davidson will be good for high single-digit growth for the next 10 years or so, the shares may well be cheap enough to buy. That, of course, also assumes that you're comfortable with the company's dealer/shipment management and financing activities. For while Harley-Davidson is no doubt one of the strongest brands in America, that doesn't give Fools an excuse to skimp on the due diligence before buying shares for themselves.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).