Harley-Davidson motorcycles sit on display at a dealership in Ottawa, Ill.
Photograph by Daniel Acker — Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Ben Geier
October 21, 2014

Harley-Davidson, the maker of the all-American motorcycle, reported better-than-expected quarterly financial results Tuesday, lifted by strong sales of its products in key markets, including the United States. Milwaukee-based Harley posted a third-quarter profit of $150.1 million, or 69 cents a share, down from $162.7 million, or 73 cents a share, a year ago. Here’s what else you need to know.

What you need to know: Sales of Harley-Davidson (HOG) motorcycles were up 3.3% worldwide for the quarter, largely driven by response to the new 2015 model year bikes. A total of 73,217 Harleys were sold, with significant growth seen in the American market. Sales in Europe and Latin America were mostly flat, while sales saw a modest jump year-over-year in the Asia-Pacific region. In a conference call for analysts, CEO Keith Wandell said he didn’t have numbers for what percentage of the sales were 2015 vs. 2014 models, but said the inventory mix was “moving in the right direction.”

The big number: For the first nine months of 2014, Harley-Davidson has brought in $215.4 million in financing income, which is actually down from $221.8 million for the same period in 2013. This is despite the fact that sales have gone up for the same period. This could mean Harley-Davidson is losing financing deals to rival lenders, or that more of its customers are choosing to pay in cash. Executives said on the conference call that it estimates that around 20% of all sales are straight cash.

What you might have missed: Though it was actually up this quarter, Harley-Davidson seems to be having a weak year when it comes to merchandise sales. For the first nine months of the year, they’ve sold $209.8 million worth of general merchandise, down from $220 million for the first nine months of 2013. It seems like fewer people are advertising their allegiance to Harley — whether or not they ever rode a hog, of course, is another question.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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