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Archive for January, 2011

CEO, Keith E. Wandell

I’m not talking about Obama’s State of the Union address.  Unfortunately I missed that opportunity to talk back to the TV with his long speech about “investment” plans in education, technology, roads and public sector workers.

Rather, my title reference is about Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) who reported fourth-quarter earnings, a loss from operations of $42.1M, or $0.18 per share, which includes the impact of a one-time, $85.2M charge from the Company’s early repurchase of senior unsecured notes during the quarter.  H-D also reported better news on the full-year 2010 income of $259.7M, or $1.11 per share, compared to income of $70.6M, or $0.30 per share, in 2009.

Mr. Wandell (CEO) stated the company faces “significant challenges” ahead as it tries to navigate the changing economic landscape marred by 9%+ unemployment and worsening home foreclosure rates.  All of this underlines the challenges awaiting H-D in 2011 as it seeks to compete.  H-D management hopes the economy will improve, they’ve changed about all they can to manage down factory shipments and invested in workers by way of transforming labor agreements.

For the 2010 year, H-D shipped 210,494 motorcycles, in line with its target range of 207,000 to 212,000 motorcycles. Full-year shipments were 5.6% lower than 2009, when the Company shipped 223,023 units. Revenue from Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the full year was $3.14 billion, a 1.2 percent decrease compared to 2009. In contrast the full year 2009 compared to 2008, motorcycle retail sales decreased 22.7% worldwide, 25.8% in the U.S. and 15.4% in international markets.

The full transcript of the earnings call can be found HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D Annual Report.

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The Green Hornet -- Kato's V-Rod

That’s right.  Last Friday the Harley-Davidson V-Rod motorcycle went 3D in the latest super-hero action comedy, The Green Hornet.

With all the sequel’s you might get confused by similar movie names like the Green Lantern or Green Mile or Soylent Green!  But, I’m talking about The Green Hornet which is based on the 1960’s Marvel comic book series about a masked crime fighting duo.  It was made into a radio series and a TV show.  The TV show actually launched the acting career of Bruce Lee, who played Kato.  In the 3D movie version, Kato is played by Jay Chou who rides the V-Rod in several scenes throughout the movie.  Seth Rogen is the playboy turned crime-fighter and Kato sidekick.

The flat-black custom V-Rod features a chopped rear fender, Destroyer wheels and a one-off custom L.E.D. headlamp.  Clearly the only type of motorcycle that a big-budget superhero film can be seen riding…

The technology the movie and consumer electronics industry most wants to push down our throats, is 3D.  Just back from CES, I can tell you firsthand about all the blurry, double-vision flat panels that were hung on every available surface of the Las Vegas Convention Center — televisions that looked sharp only when you put on ridiculous-looking 3D glasses. Many of those glasses are just as big, heavy and expensive as last year’s versions (at $100 a pair, exactly how many friends will earn a place at your Comcast Super Bowl party?).

Maybe Harley-Davidson will brand a pair of co-designed Porsche/Harley glasses that are less hideous — or even launch them when The Green Hornet hits the Blu-ray disc window?!  I think the star of the movie is that 1965 Chrysler Imperial!

Photo courtesy of H-D and Sony Pictures.

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Northwest Harley Blog Health-o-Meter

Contrary to some of my previous posts, I’m just not a numbers guy.

I’m no mathematician, but I know the odds of winning the lottery are astronomical and for the most part I balance my checkbook, so when earlier in the month I received an email from the WordPress crew congratulating me on the Northwest Harley Blog stats for 2010 I was a bit skeptical.

The dichotomy doesn’t escape me.  It’s like the advertising industry promoting itself through ads or how Fox Business News promotes itself with on-air promos that declare it the best [pick your adjective here].  So it is with some speculation and a good deal of in trepidation that I offer up this (as some will see it) self-promo and recap for 2010:

Stats: This blog was viewed more than 207,000 times in 2010. I wrote 170 new posts, growing the total archive on the blog to 708 posts. I uploaded 307 pictures – about 6 pictures per week – with the busiest day of the year being September 10th.  Since starting the blog, the all time busiest day was March 9, 2009 (9,120 page views) from this blog post HERE.

Where did they come from?: The top referring sites in 2010 were hdforums.comen.wikipedia.orgmahalo.com, and en.wordpress.com.  A lot of visitors came to the site by searching, mostly for sons of anarchysusanne klatten, occ, vagos mcjay dobynsyakuza, and old motorcycles.

Main attractions in 2010: Below are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010:

1.    Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Are New Media Darlings May 2008; 85 comments
2.    Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Flying Colors in Oregon May 2008; 44 comments
3.    Vagos MC Meeting In Grants Pass August 2008; 63 comments
4.    OCC Family Feud Ends February 2010; 4 comments
5.    Vintage Motorcycles – Honda CB750 April 2008; 7 comments

It’s unfortunate that only one post in 2010 hit the top 5, but it’s gratifying that some of the more popular posts written before 2010 indicate that the content has staying power.

What about Facebook?: According to AllThingsNow.com the highest shared post on Facebook related to the Patriot Guard HERE.  If interested you can see all the details of shared articles via Facebook HERE.

My take away from all the stats?  I’m fairly objective when it comes to evangelization, but if I had to write a 10 second news headline it would be something like:  “Northwest Harley Blog: After three years a solid start, has a few rough spots.  Sometimes brings deep motorcycle news to the masses. It’s an informative site to surf and may well draw both avid motorcyclists and the non- riding public viewers in which Harley-Davidson seeks”.

Okay, back to quality writing and time to put away the self-promo soapbox!

Photo courtesy of WordPress.com

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Paul (Senior) Teutul -- The Hair Club Motorcycle

That’s how I would described American Chopper, the reality television show based on the Teutul family business, Orange County Chopper custom-built motorcycles.

Unless you live in a cave you’ve been unable to avoid hearing about Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. revving up their litigators and fighting it out in the courtroom — a shareholder dispute or family feud?  If you’ve missed it I’ve previously blog about this father/son feud HERE and HERE.

At this point I suspect that Paul Jr. is doing a victory break dance after the decision by the appeals court reversed a lower court’s ruling that would have forced him to sell his 20% interest in Orange County Choppers to his father, at a price to be determined by the court.  Teutul v. Teutul, 2010 NY Slip Op 09248 (2d Dept Dec. 14, 2010).

You may recall that the lower court’s April 2010 ruling enforced Senior’s exercise of a buyout option contained in a January 2009 letter agreement that had temporarily patched up the father-son business relationship, and avoided cancellation of their television deal with Discovery Channel, following Senior’s on-air firing of Junior.  The court enforced the option notwithstanding that the buyout price was expressed in terms of “fair market value as determined by a procedure to be agreed to by the parties as soon as practicable.  The solution to the parties’ inability to agree on valuation procedure, the court concluded, was for the court itself to step in and determine the fair market value of Junior’s shares.

Only a legal student would find the previous two years of this business divorce interesting.  I did find it curious that according to Discovery Channel the Jan. 3rd premiere show garnered 2M+ viewers and was the number #1 cable program (excluding sports and movies) during prime time among the male 18-54 demographic.

American Chopper’s Hair Club Motorcycle

The next new episode of Senior vs. Junior is Jan. 17th where Paul Sr. will unveil the newest completed chopper built for the 35th Anniversary of the Hair Club.  Most notable is the brushed metal skull-themed paint which illustrates Hair Club’s signature “magic” where one skull is bald and the other has a full head of hair, flowing like flames.  In addition there is a promotional opportunity that I wanted to make you aware of where you can win the Hair Club motorcycle by entering their contest HERE.

Thanks to Sam Mazzarelli of Marlo Marketing and Communications for the  email with this information and corresponding photos.  The Hair Club motorcycle will be unveiled for what is expected to be a large crowd at Washington State University (Pullman, WA) on January 17th.

Photos courtesy of American Chopper, OCC and Marlo Marketing.

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Vectrix Electric Scooter - Police Edition

I’ve been in Las Vegas for the better part of January doing a work gig where 3DTV, Audio/Video equipment and musicians saturate the Consumer Electronic Show.  It’s the largest trade show in the world and is quite the rat race as people grind it out over days of endless announcements and product demonstrations.

It was all there.  From 50 Cent’s launch of his new branded “Sleek” headphones to Lady Gaga’s new high-tech sunglasses that double as a camera.  Even Harley-Davidson got in on the evangelization with a testimonial of Intel’s AIM Suite – a product that anonymously monitors viewer metrics such as age, gender, and attention span in a retail setting.  Ms. White of H-D Canada gave it a glowing report.

While running around with the other 140,000 people attending CES plus the additional 27,000 photo snapping people attending the Adult Entertainment eXpo I was nearly run over by law enforcement on a motorcycle.  An electric motorcycle in fact.  It turns out that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department recently unveiled the no gas, no noise electric motorcycles at its Convention Center Area Command. These motorcycles were donated by the Consumer Electronics Association and are nearly silent with a top speed of 62 mph.

Lady Gaga - Camera/Sunglasses

The scooters are manufactured by Vectix Corporation who advertise them as the world’s first pure-performance electric maxi-scooter.  On their web site there are testimonials from Police officers who have pushed them to 65+ mph. Clearly not for high-speed chases, but they are being used on “The Strip”, and the convention center – both location some of the most congested areas in the entire state.

 

Vectix Corporation is a well financed and international effort with production facilities in Poland.  They’ve received start-up help from Lockheed Martin, Alcoa and Parker-Hannifin.

There’s a perception that Police scooters make people feel closer to the police by taking away the barrier created by a squad car.  I’m not so sure about how it changes the approachability, but can provide my experience as a person with no criminal intentions… I wasn’t looking for a “stealth officer” on two wheels and the no noise device startled me when I didn’t hear it coming.

Photo courtesy of CEA, Lady Gaga and Vectrix Corporation.

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