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Harley-Davidson Profits Rise Nearly 10% To 97 Cents a Share

Harley-Davidson posted a nearly 10% increase in quarterly
earnings, as U.S. sales of its rumbling, iconic motorcycles grew faster than the overall market.

Fourth-quarter net profit rose to $252.4 million, or 97 cents a share, from $230 million, or 84 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose nearly 12% to $1.5 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected the Milwaukee-based company to earn 96 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.

The company said worldwide retail sales of its motorcycles rose 6.4% during the quarter. Sales in the U.S., by far its largest and most important market, rose 0.3%, the company said, even as the overall domestic market for heavyweight motorcycles fell 1.7%.

Sales jumped 29.4% in international markets, driven by strong gains in Canada, Europe and Japan.

Looking forward, Harley said it expects to ship 82,000 to 84,000 motorcycles in the current quarter and reiterated its forecast for annual earnings-per-share growth of 11% to 17% through 2009.

Harley-Davidson will hold a webcast to discuss earnings at 9 am.

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