Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) is really ramping up this year and why not? In honor of its 110th anniversary it’s rocking and rolling globally with special events from Milwaukee to Malaysia. The theme is Freedom and in a nod to Olympic tradition a single black leather jacket, The Freedom Jacket, emblazoned with Harley-Davidson insignia is being passed from rider to rider all over the world.
The story of how the jacket got its name is that Chief Marketing Officer, Mark-Hans Richer, was wearing the jacket while riding in China and stopped off at the highest place on Road 109 at 16,500 feet above sea level. There it’s customary to paint a symbol to mark reaching the destination. Richer asked a Chinese man to paint something on his jacket; what Harley-Davidson meant to him. The man painted the Chinese characters for Freedom in big red strokes on the jacket. Thus a PR campaign is born. Mad Man Don Draper would be proud.
What does all this mean for HOG shareholders and possible investors? A global spotlight will be shining on this iconic brand of American motorcycles and accessories as the riders wearing the Freedom Jacket and other global events commemorating 110 years hit the media. The stock hit yet another 52 week high on March 8 closing at $54.82 but just barely outperforming the S&P 500 over the last year up only 13.95%. It’s trading at a 20.15 P/E with a 1.60% yield and a PEG of 1.04. Harley-Davidson’s global expansion is exactly why investors should use this spotlight to peer more closely.
From Milwaukee to Market Share Globally
Just this last week Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) opened its first dealership in the Philippines. This is just part of its plan for global domination (shades of Pinky and the Brain!) with the company almost two thirds of the way toward accomplishing its 2009 goal of adding 150 dealerships overseas. Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) now has 1,400 dealerships outside the US although the majority of sales are American.
The company just announced it would be assembling three of its most popular styles in India: the Heritage Softail Classic and the two Fat Boy models. The benefits are twofold: the rides will cost less for the Indian market, averaging over $27,000 US, and will bypass the country’s 75% import tax for motorcycles of Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG)’s size.
Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) is obviously making an enormous commitment to emerging markets with a product that is decidedly discretionary for consumers in these countries. However, a friend formerly with the State Department mused that Harleys should do very well in the Philippines and other Asian countries where cars are the exception and the culture is accepting of such a sign of conspicuous consumption.
The 30 year old Harley Owners Group has over a million members worldwide as the company reaches out to women, Asians, Latinos, and virtually every group outside of its customer base, Caucasian American men over 35 with incomes over $85,000. For more about Harley-Davidson’s campaign of inclusion and community, click here.
The company reported full year 2012 and Q4 results on January 29 and the uptick in Latin American retail sales was staggering, up 39.2% while globally (excluding US) it was a much more modest 6.3%. Emerging markets were down slightly but the move into India and the Philippines should help full year 2013 sales numbers for emerging markets.