Harley-Davidson 4Q earnings up 6.8 per cent

Harley-Davidson's fourth-quarter earnings rose 6.8 per cent as motorcycle sales continued to rise worldwide.

The Milwaukee company says global sales of new motorcycles grew 5.7 per cent in the quarter and 4.4 per cent for the full year as buyers responded to its new model lineup.

Harley-Davidson posted fourth-quarter net income of $ 75.4 million, up from $ 70.6 million a year ago.

That's 34 cents per share, compared with 31 cents in the last quarter of 2012. Revenue rose 2.1 per cent to $ 1.03 billion.

The company beat Wall Street's earnings expectations for the quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 33 cents per share, on motorcycle revenue of $ 1.04 billion.

For the full year, Harley's profit rose 17.6 per cent to just under $ 734 million, or $ 3.28 per share. Revenue was $ 5.26 billion.

The annual performance also beat Wall Street estimates. Analysts expected earnings of $ 3.27 per share on revenue of just under $ 5.26 billion.

Harley predicted strong growth in global motorcycle shipments for 2014, up 7 percent to 9 percent to a range of 279,000 to 284,000. First-quarter shipments are expected to be 76,500 to 81,500, up from 75,222 a year earlier. Harley expects capital spending this year of $ 215 million to $ 235 million.

The company said it completed restructuring activities in 2013, realizing a benefit of $ 2.1 million for the year. It has spent $ 479 million on restructuring in its motorcycles business since 2009, and the measures saved the company $ 310 million last year.

It expects recurring annual savings from restructuring of about $ 320 million, starting this year.

"We believe we are well-positioned to leverage our momentum, expand our reach among new and existing customers, and further strengthen Harley-Davidson's position as one of the world's leading brands," Chairman and CEO Keith Wandell said in a statement today.

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