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Harley-Davidson is ready to roar

MotorbikeWriter rides the Harley Ultra at the world launch last year in Colorado

Harley-Davidson has announced a better-than-expected leap in sales, income and profits for the first quarter of 2014. And what’s more, the bullish company is predicting continuing growth for the rest of the year.

But the best news for owners and Harley-Davidson lovers is that the company expects its capital expenditure to increase from $215 million to $235 million this year. Capital expenditure is what a business spends to buy assets or add value to their assets.

In other words, Harley is continuing to grow and that means more models. Already Harley is in an expansion phase with its models as it has recently added three models in the middle of a model year – quite unusual for Harley or any motorcycle manufacturer. That’s on top of the wholesale changes in their new fleet of Touring bikes last year in their famed Rushmore Project and the roll-out of the Street 500 and 750, their first new family in 13 years.

Harley-Davidson says they expect to ship 279,000 to 284,000 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2014, an approximate 7% to 9% increase from 2013.

So what can we expect from Harley in this expansion phase? Perhaps there will be more models with partial water cooling which was introduced in the Ultra last year. The only problem here is concealing the small radiators on a bike without fairings. Or maybe more electronics? Harley – and Indian, for that matter – is conspicuous among touring bikes in its lack of electronic rider aids.

Harley-Davidson certainly won’t have a lack of funds to research and develop new technologies and new models after recording first quarter net income of $265.9 million, up from $224.1 million a year ago. That’s thanks to a 5.8% increase in sales to 57,415, but also due to $300m in annual cost savings in its manufacturing operations. For the investors, consolidated revenue jumped from 2013’s $1.57 billion in the first quarter to $1.73 billion in Q1 2014 lifting shares by 7% to the $72.98 per-share range.