(Reuters) - Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) reported a stronger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday, saying the U.S. economy is on the mend, young customers are embracing its brand and it will ship more motorcycles this year than it had expected in January.
The news sent shares up 3 percent in premarket trading.
Net earnings rose to $172 million, or 74 cents per share, from $119 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, were expecting profit of 72 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Product sales jumped 20 percent to $1.27 billion, compared with Wall Street estimates of $1.22 billion. U.S. sales were up 26 percent, outpacing industry growth.
The Milwaukee-based company said it now expects to ship 245,000 to 250,000 motorcycles worldwide this year, raising its estimate by 5,000 units. It added that it had limited ability to produce additional motorcycles.
It kept forecasts for gross margins and capital spending unchanged.
Harley-Davidson shares rose to $51.99 in trading before the stock market open. At that level, the stock is near its best level since the third quarter of 2007.
Reporting By Nick Zieminski in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick