Could COVID-19 help save Harley-Davidson?

Could a post-COVID-19 landscape be just what Harley-Davidson needs?


HARLEY-DAVIDSON like so many global manufacturers was hit hard as COVID-19 looked set to strangle the retail market. Like most motorcycle manufacturers, dealerships closed, production lines fell silent and the inevitable layoffs had to take place.

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But strange things are happening in Wall Street, we aren’t even out of the pandemic yet, the dealerships have barely opened, and the sales are still slow compared to post-COVID-19, but Harley-Davidson seems to be on the up.

The Milwaukee firm was previously rated as neutral by Wedbush market analyst, James Hardiman, although on Thursday he changed this to ‘outperform’. So, H-D stock has gone from neither performing extremely well or extremely badly, to actually performing slightly better than the market return. That’s a fairly hefty shift in confidence.

But what exactly is driving the change? Well, like any other outdoor pursuits brand, Harley-Davidson is benefiting from people looking to get out and about in a socially distanced manner. Everything outdoors is big business at the moment, with Forbes reporting that bicycle sales – as in pushbikes – topped $1 billion in the US in April alone! What better way to escape the stresses of a global pandemic than hitting the open road and enjoying the great American dream?

But there is also something else that might be helping America’s most famous motorcycle brand – China. There is a fairly strong feeling in many parts of the US – especially those with deep Republican roots – to move away from buying Chinese, or indeed any foreign-made goods. It’s highly likely that this disdain for anything not bearing the ‘American Made’ badge is fuelling a surge in interest in the brand.