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Riders needed: Harley-Davidson sales throttle back

Harley-Davidson isn't in hog heaven when it comes to luring more riders onto its famous motorcycles this year.

The iconic maker, which controls about half of the U.S. heavyweight motorcycle market, said bike shipments were down 14.7%  to 70,831 units in the quarter ended March 26. The good news? It was in line with its forecast of up to 71,000 units.

Harley on Tuesday kept its 2017 outlook unchanged despite a drop in revenue and profit in its recent fiscal quarter.


The Milwaukee company’s first-quarter net income fell more than 25% to $186.4  million, or $1.05 per share, from $250.5 million, or $1.36 a share, in the same period a year ago.

Harley posted revenue of $1.5 billion in the period, down from $1.75 billion a year earlier.

Harley said it continues to expect full-year shipments to be flat to down modestly. The company took an unusual step of offering rebates on its 2016 motorcycles to U.S. dealers as an incentive to reduce a backlog of those bikes.


"First quarter U.S. retail sales were in line with our projections and we remain confident in our full-year plan despite international retail sales being down," CEO Matt Levatich, said in a statement.

"We are very pleased with our continued growth in U.S. market share and the progress our U.S. dealers made in reducing their inventory of 2016 motorcycles in the quarter," Levatich said.