Worldwide markets have turned into the Wild West since the onset of COVID-19 turned into a pandemic. Most industries that are not health care related (near or far) are suffering from the lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, production hiatus, and overall uncertainty. The transportation industry in particular has been hit hard and 2020’s first quarter has been relatively catastrophic for motorcycle manufacturers.
The Indian and Italian markets have been particularly brutal with year over year losses varying between 24 and 66 percent across the board—despite promising numbers early on in the year. The picture isn't any prettier on this side of the ocean and struggling Harley-Davidson is forced to take measures to cut its losses.
The Motor Company announced that over first quarter 2020, profits dipped by 46 percent compared to the same period last year. The disappointing results can, of course, be partially attributed to the pandemic. It caused Harley to suspend its production activities, among other things, and obliterated demand for motorcycles. The decline is also likely connected to a number of pre-existing factors.
The company has already been dealing with slumping sales for a few years now, a situation that was exacerbated but not caused by the health crisis. In addition to already shaky foundations, there has also been a significant level of instability at the very top of the food chain with both the CEO and COO swapped within weeks of each other, earlier in the year.
In the U.S., the company's sales have taken a 15.5-percent nosedive with 23,372 units moved between January and March 2020. Comparatively, the numbers worldwide have dropped by 17.7 percent.
The company made a few decisions to help soften the blow, including cutting the executives’ salaries and quarterly dividends (paid to the shareholders), temporarily laid off employees abroad, and suspended shares buybacks. On the bright side, the company's stocks are on the rise again so not everything is doom and gloom.