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Harley Stock Downgraded

By June 16, 2020General Posts

Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson knocked off S&P 500, a key benchmark for the U.S. stock market

Harley-Davidson Inc. has been removed from the Dow Jones S&P 500 list, a key benchmark for U.S. stocks, but analysts say investors are more concerned about Harley’s share price and company performance.

Dow Jones announced the move Monday, saying that Harley and two other S&P 500 companies, Nordstrom Inc. and Alliance Data Systems Corp., will move to the S&P MidCap 400 list. Harley will move to the S&P MidCap 400 GICS Motorcycles Manufacturers Sub-Industry Index.

The S&P 500 is viewed as an important benchmark index for the U.S. stock market. Composed of 500 companies across a wide range of industries, the index captures the pulse of the American corporate economy.

Harley, Nordstrom and Alliance will be replaced on the S&P 500 list by current S&P MidCap 400 companies Tyler Technologies, Bio-Rad Laboratories and Teledyne Technologies.

The changes will be effective prior to the opening of trading June 22.

In 2019, Harley-Davidson saw its motorcycle sales in the U.S. drop for a fifth straight year and its global bike shipments at the lowest level in a decade.

For its first fiscal quarter of this year, Harley reported lower sales and earnings and said it was launching a new strategic plan and conserving cash as motorcycle sales fell worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company also slashed its dividend to 2 cents a share from 38 cents and said it was in talks with major U.S. banks to secure $1.3 billion in liquidity.

For most investors, getting Harley back to financial strength is far more important than whether it’s on the S&P 500, according to Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough.

“Near term, it could bring some pressure to the stock,” but long-term it’s more symbolic, Yarbrough said.

There are certain investment funds, and some retirement plans, that can only invest in the S&P 500 stocks. So not being on the list eliminates a small portion of investors, said George V. Reis, president of GVR Investment Management Inc., in Two Rivers.

“I don’t think it’s significant,” Reis said. “I would guess it might have an impact on the share price for a day or two. After that, I don’t think it makes any difference.”

“There are a lot of companies that are not on the S&P 500 that are of significance,” he added.

Harley has launched a set of actions that will eventually lead to a new strategic plan for the company. It refers to the plan as The Rewire. Among the goals is to “…reset the company’s operating model in order to reduce complexity, sharpen focus and increase the speed of decision making.”

Those kinds of changes, and consistent profitability, are what investors care about, according to Reis.

Following Monday’s announcement, Harley shares closed at $25.02, down six cents. Over 52 weeks, the shares have traded in a range of $14.31 to $40.89.