Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings Tuesday, but held onto its full-year shipments guidance even as it was "encouraged" by improving global sales.

Harley-Davidson said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in September came in at 55 cents per share, down nearly 20% from the same period last year and but four cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 51 cents per share. Group revenues, Harley-Davidson said, fell 3.8% to $1.27 billion, a figure that topped analysts' estimates of a $1.041 billion tally.

Harley-Davidson said it delivered 45,837 vehicles over the three-month period, a figure that came in at the lower end of its prior guidance and was down 5.7% from the same period last year. The group's 2019 shipment forecast, however, was held in a range of 212,000 to 217,000 vehicles. 

"We are driving stability in our business and bringing data insights and intensified consumer focus to guide our efforts to build committed riders and meet our near and long-term objectives," said CEO Matt Levatich. "We'll continue to fuel all aspects of the riding experience and add new solutions to fully develop, engage and retain riders through their journey, starting with the very first spark of interest."

Harley-Davidson shares were marked 7% higher at the start of trading following the earnings release to change hands at $39.75 each, a move that would leave the stock with a year-to-date gain of 16.6%.

Harley-Davidson's international sales rose 2.7% from last year, the company said, offsetting a 3.6% slide in domestic retail sales.