October 20, 2015 / 11:24 AM / 4 years ago

Harley-Davidson third-quarter profit falls, stock hits two-year low

(Reuters) - Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG.N) on Tuesday posted lower quarterly earnings, reduced profit guidance and said it planned to eliminate jobs, sending the company’s shares to a two-year low.

“The marketplace has thrown us some curveballs this year,”chief executive Matt Levatich, said after the company reported weaker sales and earnings that fell below analysts’ guidance.

Harley-Davidson said it plans to incur a one-time charge of $30 million to $35 million in the fourth quarter for a reorganization and job cuts which would increase funding for marketing and product redevelopment.

The company’s shares plummeted nearly 15 percent to their lowest since June 2013, as its earnings fell below analysts’ forecasts.

Harley-Davidson also cut its 2015 operating profit margin to 16 percent to 17 percent for the motorcycles segment from 18 percent to 19 percent.

“We faced our own headwinds including limited product availability and voluntary recalls, Levatich said.

After experiencing two recalls in the middle of the quarter the company has seen $32 million in recall expenses so far this year, company executives said on the conference call.

Harley-Davidson is traditionally a market leader is the United States, but with domestic sales lagging the company has lost market share as foreign competitors lowered prices to entice new buyers. The company’s U.S. market share fell by 3.9 percentage points to 52.4 percent in the third quarter compared with a year ago.

Global sales fell by more than 1 percent, hit by a 2.5 percent fall in the United States but cushioned by a 0.9 increase in foreign sales, and the company said its reorganization plans included opening up to 200 new dealerships abroad by 2020.

Additionally, the strong U.S. dollar has translated into softer overseas sales due to the unfavorable foreign exchange rate.

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin manufacturer revised its 2015 shipment outlook down to 265,000 to 270,000 which is flat to 2 percent lower than in 2014. The latest shipment projection was revised downward from previous guidance of 276,000 to 281,000.

An electric Harley Davidson motorcycle that is part of the companies "Project Livewire" stands on a street in New York June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker reported a net income of $140.3 million, down about 6.5 percent from $150.1 million from a year earlier.

Diluted earnings per share were 69 cents per share in the third quarter, the same as a year earlier.

Analysts had expected earnings per share for the quarter of 78 cents per share.

Reporting By Meredith Davis Editing by W Simon

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