Harley's Final 100th-Anniversary Celebration: Record Sales, Earnings

America's biggest motorcycle company closes its 100th anniversary by announcing record sales, profits and doubled dividends. By Art Friedman.

Harley-Davidson, Inc. capped off its celebration of its 100th Anniversary year by announcing record sales and doubling its dividends paid to shareholders. Its profits rose 21%. The company sold a record number of motorcycles in 2003, despite a slight decline in U.S. sales during the last quarter of 2003 (when most of the bikes being sold were 2004 models, not 100th anniversary bikes). However, Harley continues to project growth in its sales of motorcycles through 2007, when it projects sales of 400,000 machines. Its target for 2004 is 317,000 bikes. It delivered 291,147 motorcycles in 2003 compared with 263,653 bikes in 2002.

Harley has enjoyed 18 consecutive years of growth, and its revenues grew 13% in 2003, compared to 2002. It projects an increase of 8.9%. The 2003 100th-anniversary model year also saw strong sales of apparel and collectibles tied to the anniversary. The company cited tax-law changes as a reason for the increase in dividends.

The release from Harley-Davidson follows:


Milwaukee, Wis., December 5, 2003 -- Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE: HDI) announced today that its Board of Directors approved a quarterly cash dividend of 8 cents per share, payable December 29, 2003 to shareholders of record as of December 15, 2003. This represents a 100 percent increase over the last quarterly dividend.

"The recent change in tax law has increased the attractiveness of dividends as a way of sharing the success of the Company with our shareholders," said Jeffrey L. Bleustein, chairman and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

The Company currently has approximately 302 million shares of common stock outstanding.

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company for the group of companies doing business as Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Buell Motorcycle Company and Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc. Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the only major U.S.-based motorcycle manufacturer, produces heavyweight motorcycles and offers a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories, apparel, and general merchandise. Buell Motorcycle Company produces sport motorcycles in addition to motorcycle parts, accessories and apparel. Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc. provides wholesale and retail financing and insurance programs to Harley-Davidson dealers and customers._

For additional detail read the news stories at the following links:
Milwaukee Business Journal, WI
Washington Post, DC