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July 17, 2009

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Recession forces Harley to cut jobs

HARLEY-DAVIDSON Inc said yesterday it is cutting 1,000 more employees and lowering its motorcycle shipment guidance as quarterly earnings continued to fall due to weaker sales.

The Milwaukee-based maker of the famous heavyweight motorcycles said it plans to cut another 700 hourly and 300 salaried employees from its ranks as it copes with falling demand for its high-end bikes.

"It is obviously a very tough environment for us right now, given the continued weak consumer spending in the overall economy for discretionary purchases," Harley-Davidson President and CEO Keith Wandell said in a statement.

Harley, the top seller of heavyweight motorcycles, said its second-quarter income fell 91 percent to US$19.8 million, or 8 cents per share. That's down from US$222.8 million, or 95 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue declined 27 percent to US$1.15 billion from US$1.57 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast 24 cents per share on revenue of US$1.15 billion.

Harley has been restructuring since the beginning of the year as it sought to cope with weaker sales. Demand for Harley's motorcycles, which can cost US$20,000 or more, has taken a pounding in the recession as consumers pull back on discretionary spending.

Earlier this year, it had said it planned to cut between 1,400 and 1,500 hourly positions and about 300 salaried positions. In May, the firm said it was weighing its options for its main motorcycle assembly plant in York, Pennsylvania.


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