Harley-Davidson profit jumps 21 pct as sales rise

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Harley-Davidson's third-quarter earnings rose 21 percent, as buyers in the U.S. and abroad snapped up a lineup of new motorcycles that was introduced in August.

The Milwaukee company said U.S. sales were up 20 percent from July through September, while international sales rose 6.5 percent. The quarter continued the company's comeback from the economic meltdown in 2008.

Harley-Davidson made $162.7 million, or 73 cents per share, during the third quarter, up from $134 million, or 59 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue from motorcycles and related products rose 8 percent to $1.18 billion.

The company matched Wall Street's expectations for the quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 73 cents per share on revenue of $1.17 billion. The strong earnings, released Tuesday, nudged Harley shares up in morning trading. The company's stock rose 11 cents to $65.68 shortly after the opening bell.

The company said it sold almost 71,000 motorcycles worldwide during the quarter, nearly 16 percent more than a year ago. Sales rose 10 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, and gained nearly 16 percent in Latin America.

Buyers responded well to Harley's new Project Rushmore line of motorcycles that was introduced on Aug. 18, Chairman and CEO Keith Wandell said in a statement. "Initial retail sales of the new Project Rushmore motorcycles sparked the largest year-over-year new model sales increase in two decades," Wandell said.

Harley reiterated that it expects to ship 259,000 to 264,000 motorcycles to dealers this year. It expects gross margin for the year of 35.25 to 36.25 percent. Operating income from the company's financial services segment was $76.1 million for the quarter, up 5.1 percent from a year ago, reflecting higher interest income, the company said.

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