Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) has not had an easy time over the past 5 or 6 years, but those tough times are rapidly falling behind. The company’s Hardwire strategic plan and the push into EV via the LiveWire segment are gaining traction and have this stock set up for a good year in 2023. Economic conditions may still impact the business, but it has surpassed the pre-pandemic levels, which is good news for investors.
The real takeaway in all this is the outlook for the dividend. The dividend was cut sharply in 2020 to help preserve capital in the face of the pandemic shutdowns, and it has not been reinstated to its previous glory. The company has increased the payment twice since the cut and is on track to raise it again at the next declaration.
That declaration is due anytime and could be a compelling catalyst for investors. As it is, the company’s dividend payout is worth about 1.35% in yield, which is only 12% of the earnings projection. Because the company is outperforming the Marketbeat.com consensus estimate smartly, it is possible the next declaration could bring the payment close, if not back to the previous level, which would be an increase greater than 100%.
Harley-Davidson Has Strong Quarter, Guides Higher
Harley-Davidson had a strong quarter in Q4 , and it was able to guide the market higher. The company reported $1.14 billion in revenue, up 11.8% over last year and beat the Marketbeat.com consensus estimate by 250 basis points. The gain was driven by sales of motorcycles and apparel that shrunk the operating loss for the HDMC Segment by more than 50%.
That loss was more than offset by the HDFS segment, even with the 30% decline in operating profit. This left the GAAP earnings at $0.28, which is not only up 100% from last year but negates an expected decline and beats the consensus figures by $0.23.
Looking forward, the company is expecting the core HDMC segment to grow by 4% to 7% in 2023 and to drive business for the HDFS segments. The Livewire segment is expected to deliver a minimum of 750 wholesale vehicles in 2023, which is an increase greater than 1000%. These targets are above the Marketbeat.com consensus expectations and are helping to drive the stock higher now.
The Analysts Might Drive HOG Even Higher
The analyst's sentiment has cooled over the past year, but they are still holding on to the stock. The consensus rating is pegged at a strong Hold with a price target that assumes the stock is fairly valued at current levels but has been firming over the last month.
Marketbeat.com has yet to track any new commentaries, but the expectation is for higher price targets if not upgrades and the institutional activity is promising as well. Net activity has been mixed over the past year but slacked off at the end of 2022 and turned bullish in the first month of 2023. If this trend continues the stock should move sideways at current levels if not move higher.
Turning to the chart, shares of HOG are up 8% on the news and have the market on track to confirm a major reversal. A move above $52 would put the stock at pre-COVID highs and on track to reclaim the previous all-time highs near $70. That’s a gain of 40% and it could happen over the next year to 18 months.
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