Harley Davidson Year in Review — 2007

Posted by Ken on Jan 14

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Harley Davidson logoLet's take a break from our product features to talk a bit about Harley Davidson's 2007 year. We'll cover Harley's financial performance, the crash of its stock price, labor relations, enhancements to their bikes and then end on a sad note.

Optimism was high in January, 2007 for this company. Their stock price had run up by more than fifty percent in 2006, the outlook for retail was strong and Harley retained its image as the premium motorcycle brand. It didn't take long for that to change. In February, Harley got into a labor dispute with workers at its largest manufacturing plant. The strike was relatively short, but contributed to the stock's twenty-percent freefall by mid April. In the blogosphere, reaction was harsh.

Harley has always eyed the India market as prime for expansion. 2007 was no exception. The onslaught of news began in April and continued throughout the year. We'll see if these positive steps can have an impact on Harley's performance in 2008 and beyond.

Summer brought us the announcement of Antilock brakes, the most significant equipment-related event of the year. Here's a good video that explains it in detail.

The third quarter was brutal for Harley's stock price. Already down eighteen points in 2007, Q3 brought another nine point drop. Q3 financials were slightly better than expected, helping to stabilize the drop at the end of the year. But this planned furlough of thousands of workers was a sign of a weak 2007, and the company got little reprieve in the first two weeks of 2008, as the stock shed another fifteen percent. Speculation was that this had to do with the sub-prime lending fiasco.

Finally, Harley fans got a dose of sad news late in the year, as one of its legendary spokesman, Evel Knievel, passed away. Here's a great essay expressing how many of us felt.

On the arts and entertainment front, we saw the release of "Wild Hogs", starring John Travolta and William Macy. Check out the trailer here. And I can't resist a link to this photographer since it snuck in under the wire in 2007 and it hits on two of my passions -- cycles and photography.

All in all, a rough year for Harley. The sluggish US economy is to blame, of course, and I don't think any of us is overly pessimistic about the year to come. But time will tell...

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