Harley-Davidson Comes on Strong With Citi's Buy Rating

Citigroup kicks off coverage of Harley-Davidson with a buy rating.
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Harley-Davidson  (HOG) - Get Report was revving up Monday after Citigroup kicked off coverage of the iconic motorcycle maker with a buy rating and a $33 price target.

Shares of the Milwaukee company were up 4.2% to $24.43.

Analyst Shawn Collins said in a note to clients that the recent decline in shares reflects a likely further near-term collapse in volumes and margins, but gives no credit for the "significant turnaround potential" under new CEO Jochen Zeitz.

The analyst believes Zeitz can kick start a turnaround after being successful at the athletic and casual footwear maker Puma.

Zeitz took over the top spot in February after former Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich resigned. At the time, Zeitz said "we will look to new leadership to recharge our business.” 

The company later said that Zeitz would take over president and CEO on a permanent basis.

Last month, Harley-Davidson said it would cut about 140 jobs in the United States following the motorcycle maker's decision to adjust production volumes.

The layoffs will affect 90 production workers at the company's facility in York, Pennsylvania, and 50 others at its Tomahawk facility in Wisconsin, a company representative told Reuters.

In May, Harley-Davidson said it would reopen its factories, though with lower production rates. The company closed its U.S. assembly plants in March due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company would reopen its plants in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and speed production in phases. Output would be limited to the bestselling models and colors without customizable features for the remainder of the year.

Harley-Davidson in April reported earnings per share of 45 cents on net income of just under $69.7 million, down from 80 cents a share on net income of just under $128 million during the first three months of 2019.

Adjusted earnings per share for the quarter rang in at 51 cents, a notch below the 58 cents a share estimated by analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Sales of motorcycles and other products were $1.1 billion, down from $1.2 billion during the first quarter of 2019.