Harley-Davidson (HOG)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 18, 2011 9:00 am ET


John Olin - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Amy Giuffre - Director, Investor Relations

Lawrence G. Hund - President of HDFS and Chief Operating Officer of HDFS

Keith E. Wandell - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director


James Hardiman - Longbow Research LLC

Timothy A. Conder - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Gerrick L. Johnson - BMO Capital Markets U.S.

Rod Lache - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Felicia R. Hendrix - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Sharon Zackfia - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Joseph D. Hovorka - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Robin M. Farley - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Craig R. Kennison - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Edward Aaron - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Patrick Archambault - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division



Good morning, my name is Melissa, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Ms. Amy Giuffre, Director of Investor Relations, you may begin your conference.

Amy Giuffre

Thank you, Melissa, and welcome to Harley-Davidson's Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call. The audio for today's call is being webcast live on harley-davidson.com. The slides, which are generally available at least 30 minutes prior to the call, can be accessed by clicking on company, Investor Relations, investment presentations then Q3 2011 conference call.

Our comments today will include forward-looking statements that are subject to risks that could cause actual results to be materially different. Those risks include, among others, matters we have noted in our latest earnings release and filings with the SEC. Harley-Davidson disclaims any obligation to update information in this call.

This morning, you'll hear from Harley-Davidson CEO, Keith Wandell; CFO, John Olin; and President of Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Larry Hund. Then we'll open the call for questions. To ensure that we get as many callers as possible, we'll ask the callers ask only one question and return to the queue for follow-up questions. This has worked great for the last few quarters and we appreciate all your help. I'd also like to note that our IR website has been recently revamped to improve the ease of use and overall appearance. And finally, today, we welcome Rachel Persky to the Harley-Davidson IR Team and extend our gratitude to Travis Thacher for his years of IR service as he moves into a new position here at Harley, so thanks, Travis. With that, let's get started. Keith?

Keith E. Wandell

Thanks, Amy. Good morning, and thanks to all of you for joining us on the Third Quarter Earnings Call. Harley-Davidson again turned in a strong performance in the third quarter, with earnings nearly doubled those of the year ago period and worldwide dealer new motorcycle sales up more than 5% from last year's third quarter. The third quarter results reflect our continued progress at implementing our business strategy. Through this strategy, we are number one, transforming our production operations into a lean, flexible and best-in-class system. Secondly, bringing lean engineering to our product development, significantly reducing the time it takes to bring new motorcycles to market. We are focusing on retail excellence to deliver a personalized, compelling and premium experience for every customer, every time, everywhere. We're also attracting new groups of customers as we build on our leadership among young adults and other outreach segments and we're expanding the global reach of Harley-Davidson brand as we become truly multicultural and multi-generational.

In short, there's a tremendous amount of transformational work going on throughout the organization. Each and every one of these strategic initiatives is a major undertaking all on its own. So I can tell you I'm very proud of the dedication of all of our employees, including our union leadership and the focus of everyone in the organization to bring these changes to life. You know, just last week, I spent a day at our final assembly plant in York, Pennsylvania. And the scope of change there is tremendous and there's been a great deal of progress. From 4 separate assembly lines and operations in more than 20 buildings, we now have a much smaller campus and build all Softail, Touring, CVO, and Trike vehicles on one assembly line in all of the different configurations required for U.S. and international markets. It's an incredibly complex work and many challenges still lie ahead as we bring the new operating system online. But in spite of the short-term inefficiencies, the attitudes, engagement and pride of everyone in bringing these changes to life is truly energizing. Similarly, in our Kansas City plant is now well down the path of implementing the changes there to become best in class. And we're looking ahead to the full implementation of the contracts in the first part of the year in Wisconsin that we expect will enable us to realize the transformational opportunity across our entire company.

I also want to acknowledge our dealers for their continued efforts to deliver results at retail, which we are seeing in the sales increases of retail even as challenging economic headwinds continue. On last quarter's call, we talked about Retail 2020, a long-term global initiative to take the Harley-Davidson retail experience, as good as it is, to the next level. Retail 2020 will provide the overall arching multichannel approach, systems and processes to grow the Harley-Davidson brand at retail and define the Harley-Davidson standard of retail excellence. Just like the work going on in production and product development, Retail 2020 is about being best in class and positioning Harley-Davidson dealers in the company alike to profitably meet the constantly evolving needs of our customers.

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