Harley-Davidson Cuts Forecasts on U.S. Sales Slump (Update4)

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Harley-Davidson Cuts Forecasts on U.S. Sales Slump (Update4)

Harley-Davidson Cuts Forecasts on U.S. Sales Slump (Update4)

By Tom Lavell
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Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Harley-Davidson Inc., the biggest U.S. motorcycle maker, slashed its forecast for profit and third-quarter shipments after U.S. sales dropped last month. The shares fell the most in more than two years in New York trading.

Full-year earnings will decline 4 percent to 6 percent, instead of rising, and there may be a ``modest'' drop in revenue, the Milwaukee-based company said today in a statement. The outlook trails analysts' estimates by as much as 10 percent.

The company said it expects next year ``will continue to be challenging'' because of a sluggish U.S. economy. Consumers face rising interest rates and declining property values, cooling demand for Harley cruisers that can sell for as much as $35,000.

``The concern has been domestic growth,'' said Kevin Tynan, a New York-based analyst at Argus Research Corp. who rates Harley shares ``buy.'' ``There is some market penetration in other regions, but that has been slower growing.''

Harley said it will earn $3.69 to $3.77 a share this year, trailing the $4.12 average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The maker of the Sportster and Softail models said it expects to ship 86,000 to 88,000 Harley motorcycles in the third quarter, compared with a previous forecast of as many as 95,000.

``Our U.S. dealers' retail sales have fallen sharply during August,'' Chief Executive Officer Jim Ziemer said in the statement. ``Against the current economic background, we no longer expect worldwide dealer retail sales to increase during the second half of 2007.''

Wholesale Deliveries

Full-year deliveries will total 328,000 to 332,000 motorcycles, Harley said, a decline of as much as 6.1 percent from last year's 349,196

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