Ducati rides out the recession in style

While the European bike industry misfires, Ducati's running on all cylinders, with strong financial results

Ducati is blowing economic gloom into the weeds with muscular financial results. But the rest of the European bike industry appears to be misfiring badly.

Ducati’s sales revenue for the first nine months of 2008 grew by 25 per cent year-on-year to £346m and net profit shot up by a stunning 84 per cent to £27.7m. Motorcycle shipments from the factory to dealers increased by 19.1 per cent to 36,979 units. And worldwide retail sales were up by 8.3 per cent to 37,572 bikes, compared to a reference market (ie directly competing products from other manufacturers) decline of 6.8 per cent during the period.

The boys from Bologna say they are still on track to achieve a forecast 20 per cent growth in sales for their full financial year - a target increased from 15 per cent at the announcement of half-yearly performance data in August.

KTM, meanwhile, has admitted to a dramatic fall of almost 50 per cent in operating profit for the full 12 months of its financial year to 30 September to just £16.8m, blaming this on the plunging dollar-euro exchange rate. And the company says it will cut motorcycle production for the 2009 season by ten per cent.

Piaggio is also cutting back on production across all its motorcycle and scooter brands after depressing results for the first nine months of 2008. Overall sales were down by 5.9 per cent and fell by ten per cent across Europe - which accounts for about 80 per cent of its two-wheeler market - while net profit dropped by 6.8 per cent.

BMW is feeling the pain too, with global motorcycle sales down by 2.5 per cent in the same period, and profit from bikes falling by 15.8 per cent.