Selv om salget i Norge har vært svært bra for Harley Davison i 2008, og forventningene til 2009 er høye, sliter den amerikanske produsenten internasjonalt.

Fallet i solgte enheter totalt gjorde at inntektene til konsernet i fjerde kvartal 08 ble redusert med hele 58%, fra 186,1millioner dollar til 77,8 millioner dollar.

Totalt falt salget av antall enheter med 8,2% til 303.479 enheter for 2008 og i hjemmemarkedet, USA, var fallet hele 19,6%.

Harley Davison har for 2009 forventninger om å selge totalt ca 270.000 enheter, en nedgang på mellom 10-13% fra 2008.

For å møte situasjonen som har oppstått skal Harley Davidson kutte produksjonen mellom 10-13% i 2009. Dette betyr at 1.100 ansatte må finne seg annet å gjøre i et arbeidsmarked som i USA ikke akkurat er positivt. Kuttet i arbeidstokken utgjør ca 12% av de om lag 9.000 ansatte.

Noen av tiltakene som er vedtatt er å slå sammen de to fabrikkene som i dag produserer motorer og gir til en fabrikk samt og stenge distribusjonssenteret de har. Distribusjonen blir nå heller outsourcet.

Her er den offisielle pressemeldingen fra Harley Davidson:

Milwaukee, Wis., January 23, 2009 Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE:HOG) reported decreased revenue, net income and earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the year-ago quarter. The Company said it plans lower motorcycle shipments in 2009 and made public its overall strategy to deal with the current economic environment.

We have a strong core business anchored by a uniquely powerful brand, but we are certainly not immune to the current economic conditions, said Jim Ziemer, Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson Inc. We have a clear strategy to not only deal with the economic conditions, but also strengthen our long-term operations and financial results. We are executing that strategy with confidence and conviction.

Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Results

Revenue for the quarter was $1.29 billion compared to $1.39 billion in the year-ago quarter, a 6.8 percent decrease. Net income for the quarter was $77.8 million compared to $186.1 million in the fourth quarter 2007, a decrease of 58.2 percent. Fourth quarter diluted earnings per share were $0.34, a 56.4 percent decrease compared to last years $0.78.

Revenue for the full year 2008 was $5.59 billion compared to $5.73 billion in 2007, a 2.3 percent decline. Full-year net income was $654.7 million, compared to $933.8 million in 2007. Diluted earnings per share were $2.79, a decrease of 25.4 percent compared to $3.74 in 2007. The full-year results are below the previously provided company guidance.

For the full year, wholesale shipments of Harley-Davidsonâ motorcycles were 303,479 units, an 8.2 percent decrease compared to 330,619 units in 2007.

2009 Shipment Plan, Gross Margins

In the first quarter of 2009, the Company plans to ship between 74,000 and 78,000 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a 3.0 percent to 8.5 percent increase versus the first quarter of 2008. However, for the full year 2009, the Company plans to ship between 264,000 and 273,000 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a 10 percent to 13 percent reduction from 2008.

We reduced our production levels prudently in 2008, helping our dealers achieve lower inventory levels, said Ziemer, and were going to show similar discipline in 2009. Thats not only critical for the health of our business, but for our dealers businesses, as well.

For the full year 2009, the Company expects gross margins to be between 30.5 percent and 31.5 percent, which compares to 34.5 percent for the full year 2008. The decrease is primarily due to an expected unfavorable shipment mix versus 2008, the allocation of fixed costs over fewer units, and expected unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates versus 2008. Given the volatility of the current economic environment, the Company also indicated it would not provide EPS guidance for 2009.

Strategy for the Current Economic Environment

The Company is executing a three-part strategy that includes a number of measures to deal with the impact of the recession and worldwide slowdown in consumer demand, with the intent of strengthening its operations and financial results going forward.

Our strategy is focused on three critical areas: to invest in the Harley-Davidson brand, get our cost-structure right, and obtain funding for HDFS to help our dealers sell motorcycles and our retail customers to buy them, said Ziemer

Investing in the Brand

The Company is reinforcing its support of the Harley-Davidson brand, accelerating its ongoing marketing efforts to reach out to emerging rider groups, including younger and diverse riders. In addition, the Company will continue to focus on product innovations targeted at specific growth opportunities with its strong core customer base and new riders.

In the U.S., the Company said its Sportster® motorcycle trade-up program is being well-received by dealers and consumers and is generating new floor traffic during the winter months. The program lets riders who already own a qualifying Sportster motorcycle, or who buy a new Sportster motorcycle, receive back the original Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price value when they trade up to a Harley-Davidson Big Twin or VRSC motorcycle at participating dealerships.

Outside the U.S., the Company will continue to support the product, dealer development and marketing activities which, during the last several years, have helped drive strong retail sales growth.

Among other things, the Harley-Davidson brand stands for strength and resilience, and were managing the business in this economic climate in ways that we believe will build long-term value into the brand, said Ziemer.

Adjusting the Cost Structure

As a result of motorcycle volume reduction and the Companys commitment to improve its cost structure, Harley-Davidson plans to:

Consolidate its two engine and transmission plants in the Milwaukee area into its facility in Menomonee Falls, Wis.

Consolidate paint and frame operations at its assembly facility in York, Pa.

Close its distribution facility in Franklin, Wis., consolidating Parts and Accessories and General Merchandise distribution through a third party.

Discontinue its domestic transportation fleet operation.

The planned volume reduction and restructuring actions are expected to result in the elimination of about 1,100 jobs over 2009 and 2010, including about 800 hourly production positions and about 300 non-production, primarily salaried positions. About 70 percent of the workforce reduction is expected to occur in 2009.

We obviously need to make adjustments to address the current volume declines, said Ziemer. But we are also determined to do that in a way that will make us more competitive for the long term. Our management group will engage with union leaders, through our partnering relationship, regarding these changes.

On a combined basis, Harley-Davidson expects the volume reduction and changes to operations to result in one-time charges of approximately $110 million to $140 million over 2009 and 2010, and ongoing annual savings of approximately $60 million to $70 million upon completion of the restructuring actions.

Obtaining Additional Funding for HDFS

The Company said it is evaluating a range of options to provide the necessary liquidity for the wholesale and retail lending activities of Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS).

Were evaluating options in order to obtain the necessary funding to support Harley-Davidson dealers and customers throughout the year, said Tom Bergmann, Chief Financial Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. and interim President of HDFS.