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Harley net tumbles as bike sales slide

US motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc said on Thursday that its profit fell sharply in most recent quarter as the ugly economic environment soured consumer spending and sent bike sales sliding.

The company also slashed its 2009 shipment forecast, announced plans to accelerate plant consolidation and said it would cut another 1,000 jobs - moves it said would add another $40 million in one-time restructuring charges.

Harley-Davidson reported a second-quarter profit of $19.8 million, or 8 cents a share, down 91% from the $222.8 million, or 95 cents a share, it booked a year before.

Retail sales of new Harleys skidded 30.1% and revenue fell to $1.15 billion from $1.57 billion. Analysts were expecting $1.14 billion.

In the United States, the company's biggest market, retail sales of the company's bikes tumbled 35.1% from the year-ago period.

Harley slashed its 2009 shipment expectation to between 212,000 and 228,000 new motorcycles, down from the 303,479 it shipped in 2008. It had previously said it expected to ship 264,000 to 273,000 motorcycles this year.

As a result of the lowered shipment volume, the company said it would cut 700 more positions in its hourly workforce and slash the salaried workforce by about 300 positions. It said it plans to offer a voluntary separation incentive package to eligible salaried employees.

It had already announced cuts of 1,400 to 1,500 hourly production positions in 2009 and 2010 and about 300 salaried positions.

On average, analysts had expected the Milwaukee-based company to report a profit of 25 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates, which said the company probably earned 24 cents per share on a basis comparable with the estimates, taking into account restructuring and goodwill charges.

Harley said it had reclassified a $72.7 million non-cash provision to establish an initial credit loss allowance and a $28.4 million impairment charge to write off the goodwill recorded in connection with the 1995 purchase of its finance unit, HDFS. (Reuters)