Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Bengaluru — On Tuesday, Harley-Davidson surged past expectations for first-quarter profit and stuck to its full-year shipment forecasts in the face of concerns over falling US sales and European import tariffs, sending its shares up 3%.

US President Donald Trump, who has criticised Harley for its plans to shift some US production overseas, weighed in after the results to say EU tariffs on the manufacturer were “unfair” and vowed to reciprocate, without giving details.

Harley, while again weighed down by a continuing decline in its popularity both in the US and globally, topped Wall Street’s profit forecasts by more than 30c per share.

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Earlier this year, Harley said the retaliatory import duties imposed by the EU on its bikes would cost the company between $100m and $120m in 2019.

European markets are a growing portion of the Harley’s total motorcycle sales. To avoid the additional import duty, it has boosted investment at its Thailand plant to serve that market.

It said US retail motorcycle sales, or sales by dealers to customers, fell 4.2% in the first quarter ended March 31. European sales were down 2.1%.

The company’s overall net income fell 26.7% to $127.9m in the quarter, while revenue from motorcycles and related products fell 12.3% to $1.19bn, roughly in line with forecasts.

That generated earnings per share excluding items of 98c, compared with the average analyst estimate of 65c per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.