Harley Davidson suffers another sales drop The question remains whether or not the company can spark a turnaround

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Rob Lenihan

Harley-Davidson (HOG – Get Report) saw retail unit sales fall at a high single-digit rate in July, according to Wedbush estimates, and sales were down at a mid-single-digit pace in August.

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Wedbush said in a note to investors the estimate was generally in line with an 8% domestic decline Harley reported in the second quarter.

While some dealers are somewhat optimistic about Livewire, the company’s electric motorcycle, Wedbush said “some of the other MY20 additions, most remain underwhelmed, with more anticipation surrounding the MY21.”

“The question remains whether or not the company can spark a turnaround before the onset of the next recession, and management will have the opportunity to again make its case at the late-September analyst meeting in Milwaukee,” the note said.

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The new model year features the addition of three new models, including Livewire, the elimination of six, and mostly incremental updates to the existing platforms.

“By our math, like-for-like pricing (while fairly choppy across models) is essentially flat on a weighted average basis,” the report said. “We see this as a step in the right direction, as average prices were up significantly during each of the past two years, which we believe further exacerbated the price differential between new and used bikes, and also helped competitors steal share from Harley-Davidson.”

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While some of the price cuts were appreciated, Wedbush said that “a handful of dealers indicated this might make it harder in the short-term to unload some leftover MY19s.”

“Some of our contacts were also upset that Harley has seemingly pared back its lineup for this year noting that more variety is better when it comes to winning over customers,” the note said.

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Last week, William Blair lowered its 2019 shipment estimate for Harley as it also noted muted sales response to new models.

In July, Harley-Davidson beat Wall Street’s second-quarter expectations, but lowered its forecast for motorcycle shipments for the year. Unit sales of motorcycles fell 8.4% worldwide in the quarter to approximately 72,000 from around 78,000 a year ago. The largest drop came in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (down 12.5%).

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Harley-Davidson shares are rated neutral at Wedbush with a $35 price target. Harley-Davidson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Harley-Davidson was up nearly 4.1% to $33.89.

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