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Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Millionaires Don’t Feel Wealthy

According to a recent survey, 4 out of 10 millionaires don’t feel wealthy.  The point at which they do “feel it” is about $7.5M according to the Fidelity Millionaire Outlook who tracks millionaires confidence viewpoint.

And speaking of millionaires, it’s unclear if Mr. Keith Wandell (CEO, Harley-Davidson) is feeling wealthy versus feeling a bit pinched because according to the AP and papers recently filed with regulators Mr. Wandell received compensation valued at $6.4M in 2010, only up 1% from 2009 when he spent just 8-months on the job.  There were stock and option awards totaling $3.02M and a performance-based cash bonus of $2.3M which accounted for most of his compensation.

I know what you’re thinking… in this day an age of splendiferous benefits, where Milwaukee County bus drivers are making a 6-figure income along with many other working class heroes… we need to cut Mr. Wandell some slack, right?  He’s unified the company, changed whatever can be changed, clearly communicated that everybody’s got to get better at everything and today the road signs suggest a turnaround for the heavy-cruiser company.  In fact, if we go by the past year’s stock (NYSE: HOG) price it has hit a 52-week low of $21.26 and a 52-week high of $43.14 which is a home run in anyone’s portfolio!  Yet, with continued oil fears and the Japan crisis who knows if Harley will drive home better numbers.

To be fair, I’m a little guilty of treating some millionaires a bit like a piñata, but I just read a report about how half of the ‘rescued’ borrowers still default.  That’s not the millionaires issue, but when I hear they don’t “feel” wealthy it’s difficult for me to relate!  The housing market is up and then it’s down depending on which paragraph you read in the SAME article!  Where are the jobs?   Just about a month ago we were stunned and hopeful over the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt.  Then concern followed with the Libya unrest and now war preventing Qaddafi from harming civilians which has been quickly followed with what seems like a weekly double-digit hike in…doesn’t it feel like ‘we’re working just for gas now’?  And then how ’bout that whining from one of the more famous multi-millionaires:

“I’m not broke, but I was kind of counting on some of that money to get me through the summer.  Now I’ve got to like work.  But that’s alright.  Work’s good.  Work fuels the soul.” – said the ‘peaceful man with bad intentions’, Charlie Sheen.

Hey Mr. Sheen quit whining like a little butch and get a grip that your gravy train is done.  We’re all trying to get a little work and counting on some motorcycle rally money to get us through the summer.  Although we don’t all roll with a baby-sitter porn-star mistress.   Winning opportunity – Duh?!

Far be it for me to use the troubles of another to further my blog career, but Mr. Wandell doesn’t get a total pass — it was just last September when he stated that Harley-Davidson management had lost control of costs.  The key item he mentioned was employees at the Harley Menomonee Falls Plant were making an average $32 per hour in wages and with benefits added were costing the company $75 per hour.  He then made reference to General Motors – sort of a connect the dots if you can with the media — and the inability to remain profitable under the burden of its payroll, pension and benefits costs.  Many perceived this as whining and some had an “allergic reaction” to the fact that a CEO who makes more than $6M a year was whining about how out of control workers wages have become….was shall we say, less than gripping.  I’m sure if Mr. Wandell could have a “do-over” he’d try and not alienate the workers again.

And speaking of CEO bonuses, they’ve bounced back faster than a Charlie Sheen Google search.  Mr. Wandell might be thinking his $2.3M performance-based cash bonus was rather paltry when compared to: Howard Schultz (CEO, Starbucks) $3.5M; Jeffery Immelt (CEO, GE) $4M; Daniel Ustian (CEO, Navistar) $3.9M; Robert Iger (CEO, Walt Disney) $13.5M?  According to this WSJ report the median cash bonus at 50 major corporations jumped 30.5% in 2010.

A wise man once told me that there’s no “I” in ‘team, but there are two in whining…

Photo courtesy of Harvey Comics.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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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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Think Snow Bumpersticker - HD Advertising (circa: 1972-74)

It was a big year for Harley-Davidson as they shifted from downsizing, labor agreements and weathering the recession to now looking forward to growth in 2011.  With freezing temperature and snow falling in many parts of the U.S., I’ve compiled some 2010 highlights to provide you some entertainment as you warm up with hot chocolate:

January
1.    Downtown H-D Renton, WA., one of the northwest dealers named among top 100 (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D reported its first quarterly loss since 1993 (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D announces the new, but “old” Forty-Eight Sportster (Link: HERE)

February
1.    H-D donates 28 new Buell and H-D motorcycles to assist in the earthquake disaster (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D marketing continues to pitch brand with young-rebel-with-tats ethos (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D internal documents indicate 382,000 absenteeism hours in the factories (Link: HERE)

March
1.    H-D promotes danger as Seth Enslow breaks Bubba Blackwell’s jump record (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D dealer (Shumate) in Kennewick, WA., closes under a mountain of debt. (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D CEO, Keith E. Wandell 2009 compensation package becomes public as the $6M dollar man (Link: HERE)
4.    H-D marketing pulls out all stops on innovation and launches Super Ride II (Link: HERE)

April
1.    H-D consolidates motorcycle testing in Arizona Proving Grounds (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D files mass layoff notice with Wisconsin department of workforce development (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D CEO, Keith E. Wandell is “encouraged” as Q1 motorcycle sales revenue declines 20% YOY (Link: HERE)
4.    After 26 years of service Bill Davidson is put in charge of the Museum (Link: HERE)

May
1.    H-D CEO, Keith E. Wandell states in interview that H-D is like GM…a fading American industrial might (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D threatens to leave the state of Wisconsin (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D CMO, Mark-Hans Richer is no man crush of this blog (Link: HERE)

June
1.    H-D launches XR1200 Refresh (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D launches Wii based-game: “Road Trip” (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D at the National Law Enforcement Museum (Link: HERE)

July
1.    H-D opens Hyderabad, India showroom to pandemonium (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D reports Q2 earnings with financial services being largest money maker (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D launches the 2011 model lineup of 32 bikes vs. 38 the prior year (Link: HERE)

August
1.    H-D announces closure of sidecar business which operated since 1914 (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D announces 1-MILLION fans on Facebook (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D sold back MV Agusta to its previous owners (Link: HERE)
4.    H-D announces that after 31 years they’ve parted ways with PR firm Carmichael Lynch (Link: HERE)

September
1.    Erik Buell releases teaser ads promoting a new street bike based on 1190RR (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D gives away free posters of any of their 32 models (Link: HERE)
3.    H-D under threat of moving out of state announces ratified 7-year labor agreement (Link: HERE)
4.    H-D “spins” the fact that massive branding efforts result in a 24% brand value decline (Link: HERE)

October
1.    H-D reports Q3 earnings with motorcycle sales declining 7.7% worldwide and 14.4% in the U.S. (Link: HERE)

November
1.    H-D management “negotiates” with Kansas City plant to accept a new labor agreement or we’ll leave state (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D turns down a $25M tax credit deal by Wisconsin State (Link: HERE)

December
1.    H-D never disclosed a $2.3 BILLION deal with Federal Reserve (Link: HERE)
2.    H-D announces first ever “Crowd Sourcing” for new marketing ideas (Link: HERE)

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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Autumn leaves are falling rapidly around the northwest and it’s earnings time for Harley-Davidson.  Will it be continued progress or sputtering along?

We’ve got a crisis in America.  No jobs.  And those with the money want to keep it!   We live in a society.  And right now our society is not cohesive.  It’s about the haves and have-nots.  Those who want to be in everybody else’s personal business under the guise of freedom and those who want to be able to pursue happiness in their own individual way.

Speaking of pursuing happiness with the wind in your face…

HOG released their Q3, 2010 earnings.  Third-quarter retail sales of new H-D motorcycles decreased 7.7% worldwide, 9.4% in the U.S. and 3.6% in international markets compared to the year-ago period.  Revenue from H-D motorcycles in Q3, 2010 was $798.8M, down 0.6% compared to the year-ago period. The Company shipped 53,293 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide during the quarter, compared to shipments of 54,236 motorcycles in the third quarter of 2009.  Revenue from Parts and Accessories totaled $219.0M during the quarter, down 1.2%, and revenue from General Merchandise, which includes MotorClothes apparel, was $64.1M, down 9.4% compared to the year-ago period.  Overall the results were not as bad as the industry-wide retail decline in the U.S. of 14.4%, but it’s still in decline.  The CEO stated:

“Despite the continued challenges in the economy, we are making solid, steady progress at transforming our business,” said Keith Wandell, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Inc. “With our strategic focus on future growth initiatives and continuous improvement, we are positioning Harley-Davidson to succeed at today’s volumes, as well as to grow and restore greater profitability longer term.”

The company lowered its capital expenditures outlook to $190M – $210M and adjusted the range of motorcycle sales to 207,000 to 212,000 for 2010.  This is down 6-7% from 2009 levels.  Mr. Wandell went on to say:

“The Harley-Davidson brand has remarkable strength globally. Few products or brands rank as highly in terms of awareness and affinity on the part of customers and non-customers alike. We have continued to gain market share in the U.S. and Europe. Since 2008, we also have been the U.S. leader in new motorcycle sales to young adults for the entire on-road motorcycle category. Going forward, we will continue to build on this brand strength and leadership position,” said Wandell.

One bright spot was operating income from financial services (HDFS) was $50.9M in Q3, 2010, compared to an operating loss of $31.5M in the year-ago quarter. The improvement in year-over-year operating income is largely the result of a lower cost of funds and improvement in credit losses.

Read the full press release HERE.

Photo taken in Milwaukee during 105th Anniversary.

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Interbrands Ranking of the Best Global Brands

Brand impact.  That’s what H-D desires.

Trust and customer loyalty are the words that matter most in today’s economic market place.

Let’s recap the various statements made by CEO, Keith Wandell on the Harley-Davidson brand.  I found it interesting and thought you might too:

October 2009 — “As our announcement regarding Buell and MV Agusta indicates, we are moving with the speed and decisiveness required to bring our business strategy to life,” said Wandell.  “The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful, long-term growth.”

January 2010 — “Focusing our investment behind the uniquely strong Harley-Davidson brand provides the most attractive path to sustained, long-term growth,” Wandell said. “We also expect to achieve substantial gains in the efficiency of our operations through continuous improvement.”

April 2010 — “Throughout the past 16 months we have taken a number of actions to address the immediate challenges and establish a bold, clear direction that will maximize our opportunities going forward,” said Wandell. “We have come a long way in a short amount of time, and I could not feel better about the progress we have made and where we are headed.”

July 2010 — “Despite the decline in second-quarter retail motorcycle sales, we believe interest in the Harley-Davidson brand remains strong among riders of all generations. In fact, Harley-Davidson is the U.S. market share leader of on-road motorcycles among young adults. We will continue to focus our resources on expanding the global reach of the brand and developing new products that will reach even more riders going forward,” Wandell said. “I would like to thank our employees for their continued hard work and support of our strategy.”

How’s all that brand focus working out Mr. Wandell?  Check it out.  According to Interbrands 11th annual ranking of the “Best Global Brands,” Harley-Davidson (#98) saw a decline of 24% in brand value!! For the first time ever, it nearly fell OFF the top 100 list of global brands.

Quick to provide an “interpretation” and point out their view of the pitfalls of Interbrands ranking system – Harley-Davidson spokesman Bob Klien stated“Given the financial focus of the Interbrand rankings, the results aren’t really all that surprising,” and then went on to say “It’s to be expected given the economy and the effect it’s had on the motorcycle industry and Harley-Davidson.”

Not that surprising.  Huh?  If it’s a financial focus let’s contrast the H-D brand with the auto industry which has had a difficult time in this economy too.  Mercedes Benz (#12) and BMW (#15) were able to sustain and build their value through innovative design and a focus on delivering premium value vehicles with luxury features. Award-winning products like the Q5 helped Audi (#63) lead industry growth this year with a 9% increase in its brand value.  Even the media’s preoccupation with the Toyota (#11) recall which caused the brand to lose -16% of its brand value was handled in a way that it out performed H-D!

What about other luxury brands?  Even with the economic downturn, luxury brands Cartier (#77), Armani (#95), Louis Vuitton (#16), Gucci (#44), Tiffany & Co (#76) and Hermes (#69) all saw the value of their brands increase in 2010 by continuing to invest in their heritage and legendary status. Outstanding customer service and a focus on unique in-store and online experiences allowed them to stay strong, even while consumers cut back spending.

Interbrand publishes the ranking of the top 100 brands based on a unique methodology analyzing the many ways a brand touches and benefits an organization, from attracting top talent to delivering on customer expectations. Three key aspects contribute to a brand’s value; the financial performance of the branded products or services, the role of brand in the purchase decision process and the strength of the brand to continue to secure earnings for the company.

The Harley-Davidson brand investment does not seem to be working.  Now what?

Photo courtesy of Interbrands.

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Harley-Davidson issued a recall notice on certain model 2010 FXDF motorcycles with fork leg assemblies (LH P/N 48622-08, RH P/N 48623-08) manufactured from February 9 through February 29, 2010.

The fork leg assemblies may have been incorrectly assembled using the wrong springs and as a result the motorcycles containing the wrong springs will have reduced effectiveness which can cause reduced traction on irregular road surfaces and will also create an irregular lean angle when parked on the side stand.  The condition may increase the risk of a crash.  The recall effects potentially 70 units.

The recall notice is NHTSA campaign ID number: 10V329000  N/A.   Motorcycles with the wrong springs will be notified by Harley-Davidson and they will repair the affected motorcycle free of charge.  The recall is expected to begin on or about July 26, 2010.  Owners may contact Harley-Davidson at 414.343.4056 or the NHTSA web site or hotline at 888.327.4236 for more information.

Photo courtesy of H-D.

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Polaris Industries -- Victory Motorcycles

Creativity.

There is a fascinating and quite boring article in ‘Newsweek’ about the creativity gap, how creativity is declining in America.  Reading it I couldn’t stop thinking about the motorcycle business and specifically Harley-Davidson.

Given it’s earning season; H-D announce earnings HERE, now it’s Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII), makers of the Victory motorcycles turn who reported its Q2’10 net income of $25.6 million.  By comparison, the 2009 second quarter net income was $17.5 million.  Sales for the second quarter 2010 totaled $430.9 million, an increase of 25% from $345.9 million recorded in the year-earlier period.

Scott Wine, Polaris’ CEO stated:

“Polaris maintained strong momentum in the second quarter, driven by solid market share gains, sales growth and margin expansion. Innovation and execution enabled us to deliver another quarter of solid operating results in an overall economic and powersports industry environment that remains sluggish.”

Yeah, but you’re likely saying that’s all ATV and snowmobile sales, right?  True the lions share is off-road sales, but specific to sales of the On-Road Division, which primarily consists of Victory motorcycles, they saw an increase of 48% during the second quarter of 2010 vs. the same period in 2009. The N.A. heavyweight cruiser and touring motorcycle industry remained weak during the quarter, but Victory motorcycles had strong retail sales during the second quarter, increasing more than 10% in N.A. compared to the second quarter last year, resulting in overall market share gains and retail sales growth for the third consecutive quarter. The increased demand reflects the popularity of the new 2010 Cross Country and Cross Roads touring models.   The N.A. dealer inventory of Victory motorcycles declined 32% in the Q2’10 compared to 2009 comparable levels. The sale of Victory motorcycles in markets outside of N.A. continues to accelerate, with sales reaching 25% of total On-Road/Victory sales for the year-to-date period.  And lastly the income from Polaris financial services was $4.2 million for Q2’10 compared to $4.0 million in 2009.

I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something missing for me with the Victory motorcycle.  Maybe it’s just the “bar-n-shield” logo and now my bias is showing?  But I balk at comments from riders that claim Victory is NOT a threat or competition for H-D… it just doesn’t ring true.  The cruisers are more roomy, the engine has more HP, the motorcycle is lighter, has a lower seat, larger saddlebags all at a cost of thousands less means Victory is doing a lot RIGHT on the creativity front.

In other words, the Harley-Davidson businessmen look to squeeze all the creativity out in the name of profits.  And now the business is in the hands of the manufacturing line worker, who are always the least creative element in the chain.  The engineers designed out cost, the line-worker built them at the lowest cost, the dealer sold them slightly above cost. Now the company is trying to fix the business, but are flummoxed.  Do they truly think cutting out cost, means somehow people will magically appear?

They’re not and meanwhile Victory ratchet’s up innovation.

Photo courtesy of Polaris/Victory Motorcycles.

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