UPDATE 1-Harley-Davidson posts higher profit as sales creep back
CHICAGO, July 25 (Reuters) - Harley-Davidson Inc posted higher quarterly profit on Thursday, lifted in part by a modest rebound in demand for its motorcycles in the United States, its No. 1 market.
But the Milwaukee-based company stuck by its forecast for annual motorcycle shipments, suggesting sentiment among would-be buyers remained cautious and that the bike maker did not anticipate a late surge in demand in the third quarter, the tail end of its traditional selling season.
Harley-Davidson continues to expect to ship 259,000 to 264,000 of its motorcycles to dealers worldwide in 2013, up from 247,625 bikes in 2012 and 233,117 in 2011.
The company's annual worldwide motorcycle shipment levels peaked at about 350,000 units in 2006, right before the U.S. housing bubble burst and consumer demand for its bikes - which range in price from $8,000 to more than $30,000 - plummeted along with the broader economy.
Harley-Davidson's second-quarter profit rose to $271.7 million, or $1.21 a share, from $247.3 million, or $1.07 a share, a year ago.
Although slightly higher sales of the company's heavyweight motorcycles helped lift results, much of the increased profit appeared to come from margin gains after its ongoing restructuring and cost-cutting.
Sales and revenue rose just 3.4 percent to $1.79 billion.