Harley-Davidson to Trim More Jobs

Net profit down 37% in the first quarter

Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson said April 16 it would cut an additional 300 to 400 jobs over the next two years to realign its production with softer demand.

The Milwaukee-based company made the announcement after revealing first quarter results showing worldwide sales of its iconic motorbikes fell 12% and U.S. retail sales declined 9.7% from last year's first quarter.

"While we are mildly encouraged by the fact that the U.S. retail sales rate declined less in the first quarter than in the prior two quarters, we remain cautious and continue to expect 2009 to be an extremely challenging business environment," said Jim Ziemer, president and chief executive.

"We continue to make good progress in executing our strategy for the economic downturn, and we will continue to manage our business with strong discipline."

In January, the company announced preliminary estimates for the elimination of about 800 hourly production jobs during 2009 and 2010. But based on the latest sales reports, it will boost the number of cuts by 300 to 400 over the two years.

After various restructuring costs, net profit for the quarter was $117.3 million compared with $187.6 million in the first quarter of 2008. Revenue fell slightly to $1.29 billion compared with $1.31 billion in the year-ago period.

The company shipped 74,670 Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the first quarter of 2009 compared with 71,868 motorcycles shipped in the year-ago period.

But Harley reaffirmed its plans to ship between 264,000 and 273,000 motorcycles to dealers worldwide in 2009, a 10% to 13% reduction from 2008.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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