Skip to main content
Tag

investors

Harley’s electric motorcycle division to go public via $1.7 billion SPAC deal

By General Posts

from https://www.cnbc.com/

Key Points :

  • Harley-Davidson’s electric-motorcycle division will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm in a deal valued at $1.77 billion, the company said on Monday.
  • The company launched LiveWire earlier this year, hoping to claw back lost market share as its core baby boomer customer base grows older and interest in motorcycling as a recreational activity fades.
  • Harley-Davidson will retain a 74% stake in the company, which is expected to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LVW.”

Harley-Davidson’s electric-motorcycle division will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm in a deal valued at $1.77 billion, the company said on Monday, as the 118-year old brand bets on younger customers to boost volumes.

The company launched LiveWire earlier this year, hoping to claw back lost market share as its core baby boomer customer base grows older and interest in motorcycling as a recreational activity fades.

A broader awareness about climate change is also paving the way for automakers to lean towards greener vehicles. Valuations have gained as money managers are also increasingly factoring in ESG policies in their investments.

Harley is the latest to cash in on an uptick in valuations of electric-vehicle makers. Last month, Amazon-backed EV maker Rivian shot past $100 billion in valuation in its market debut, surpassing Ford and General Motors.

“If anything this underlines what we’ve been saying for a long time. Detroit, wake up! The train has left the station! EVs are inevitable,” Roth Capital analyst Craig Irwin said.

“Many traditional OEMs (Original equipment manufacturers) with emerging EV businesses can obviously do similar spinoff transactions,” Irwin added.

Harley’s shares rose 11.3% in premarket trading, while those of AEA-Bridges were up 3.4%.

Jochen Zeitz, Harley’s chief executive, will be the chairman of LiveWire for up to two years following the completion of the deal. In an investor presentation, LiveWire projected units sales volume of 100,961 electric bikes by 2026.

Harley-Davidson will retain a 74% stake in the company, which is expected to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “LVW.” ABIC’s shareholders will own about 17%.

Harley-Davidson Has Missed the Mark in Electric Transportation

By General Posts

by Travis Hoium from https://www.fool.com

The company can’t get over its past success.

The iconic Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) brand is in trouble. The company has seen revenue fall for a half-decade, and earnings have evaporated. Strategies to get into electric motorcycles have largely failed, and the core business doesn’t show any signs of a turnaround.

Despite all of these challenges, Harley-Davidson stock is up 82% over the past year, and investors seem optimistic about a turnaround. But there’s good reason to think that won’t happen for this leisure stock.

Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle market is shrinking

One thing is clear: Harley-Davidson’s market is getting smaller as the culture that brought the company to industry dominance diminishes. The customer base is aging, younger consumers are no longer interested in the look or sound of Harley-Davidsons, and growing markets adjacent to the motorcycle market have been difficult for the brand to enter.

The biggest challenge is that Harley-Davidson was always a culture brand, and that’s what made it so powerful for decades. It wasn’t just motorcycles — it was people’s apparel, the sound the bikes made, and long rides on the open road. As more people move to urban markets and look for less disruptive means of transportation, the culture looks out of date.

Going electric isn’t enough

Harley-Davidson hasn’t been completely surprised by the industry’s changes — it saw the electric vehicle market coming to motorcycles. But it miscalculated what kind of products consumers want and where its brand can connect. The current LiveWire products are a similar form factor to traditional motorcycles, but that’s not where consumers are trending.

Electric scooters are really where the growth has been, with Statista estimating that about 50 million electric scooters and bicycles were sold in 2020. Grand View Research estimates the electric scooter market will grow from $20 billion in 2020 to $42 billion in 2030. This is where the growth is, and Harley-Davidson is essentially absent. If it’s looking to attract younger customers, scooters would have been a great way to grow the business.

Just getting into electric mobility isn’t enough — companies have to make the right products and have the right brands. Harley-Davidson is neither, meaning it is missing out on a huge growth market that’s adjacent to its core products.

No easy answers

Management has tried to lay out a turnaround strategy. They want to get into used motorcycle sales, and expand the lineup of electric motorcycles and bicycles. But used bikes are just an easy revenue grab, and there’s no indication that Harley-Davidson will build significant market share in smaller electric mobility products.

The future is looking dimmer by the day for Harley-Davidson. Sometimes an iconic brand like this simply sees the world pass it by.

Harley-Davidson faces proxy fight with investor Impala

By General Posts

by Svea Herbst-Bayliss from https://www.reuters.com

The $2.8 billion hedge fund run by Robert Bishop, which owns 1.9 million Harley shares, or 1.2% of the company, has nominated former auto industry executive Brent Dewar and Leo Hindery, Jr., who has public board experience, as directors to Harley’s nine-member board.

BOSTON: Harley-Davidson Inc faces a battle with one of its investors after Impala Asset Management said on Wednesday it will try to install two directors at America’s oldest and best-known motorcycle maker.

The $2.8 billion hedge fund run by Robert Bishop, which owns 1.9 million Harley shares, or 1.2% of the company, has nominated former auto industry executive Brent Dewar and Leo Hindery, Jr., who has public board experience, as directors to Harley’s nine member board.

Harley has rejected the two men, saying in a filing that they would not bring fresh skills and declining to settle with Impala when the hedge fund first approached the company about new nominations to the board.

Impala has criticized the company for losing market share and the board for being slow fixing poor returns. It also pushed for the ouster of former CEO Matt Levatich in January.

“Impala approached the Board and advocated for the removal of then-CEO Levatich and a modest refresh of the Board itself. We believed then, and still believe, that the Company underperformed its potential under Mr. Levatich and that the Board should have taken action on its own,” the hedge fund said in a filing.

Harley tapped long-time board member Jochen Zeitz as interim CEO on Feb. 28.

A German passport holder, Zeitz’s appointment came just days before U.S. President Donald Trump banned some travel from Europe amid the spread of the coronavirus that has sent markets reeling and killed more than 8,700 people so far.

The motorcycle maker said in a statement on Wednesday an employee in one of its manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that it would shut majority of the production at its facilities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin starting March 18 through March 29.

Automakers Ford Motor Co , General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also confirmed they will shut down U.S. plants to stop the virus’ spread.

Meanwhile, like other Harley executives, Zeitz is working remotely and is communicating by video. In one sent to the company’s dealers and seen by Reuters, he said he is “hitting the ground running.”

A company spokeswoman said Zeitz is “in the process of moving to Milwaukee,” where Harley is headquartered. She declined to offer more details.

Zeitz, a former CEO of German apparel and footwear maker Puma, has lead a push for sustainability at Harley and was a force behind The Live Wire, the company’s first production of an electric bike.

Does Indian Motorcycle Have a Harley-Davidson Problem?

By General Posts

by Rich Duprey from https://www.fool.com/

Sales remained aloft longer than its rival, but now even its sales are falling.

As much as falling motorcycle sales at Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) have been attributed to its core customer aging out of the market while the next generation of riders seems uninterested in buying the big bikes it produces, Indian Motorcycle sidestepped most of the same pitfalls even though it produces many of the same kinds of motorcycles as Harley does.

Since being resurrected from bankruptcy by Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) and returned to the market in 2014, Indian has been a steady performer with retail sales often rising in the double-digit percentages. That has allowed it to steal market share from Harley, whose sales often contracted at similar percentages.

Yet with Polaris’ third-quarter earnings report released last month, investors may have to accept that Indian Motorcycle now has its own Harley-Davidson problem.

A worsening sales decline
Polaris Industries is not transparent at all when it comes to telling you how its motorcycle business is performing. Where Harley breaks down sales and shipments by geographic region and type of motorcycle, Polaris provides vague percentage increases or declines, maybe calling out a model once in a while, but never giving investors any real insight into how Indian’s various motorcycles are performing.

What we do know is that despite double- and even triple-digit sales growth early on, Indian Motorcycle sales are now quickly spiraling down. Even as Polaris obscures the actual numbers, a mid-teen-percentage decline in retail sales that far eclipses the contraction of the broader motorcycle market suggests that this is becoming a big problem for the bike maker.

Worse, the downdraft is accelerating. In the second quarter, Polaris said Indian retail sales were down by almost 10%, while in the first quarter they were down by high single-digit rates. In last year’s fourth quarter they were down by low double-digit amounts, which was a big drop since they had been positive the quarter before.

That doesn’t bode well for when Polaris reports results the next time around. Even though the bar has been lowered considerably on sales, there’s no reason to think it will be able to rebound — precisely because Indian is still making the same kinds of heavy, big-bore bikes as Harley.

It just released its newest touring motorcycle, the 2020 Challenger, that houses its bigger, more muscular liquid-cooled PowerPlus engine that evokes images of Harley’s Road Glide.

Looking to reverse direction
Certainly both bike makers are hoping to change the equation. Harley has gone all-in on electric motorcycles — a field Polaris rejects, saying they’re unprofitable — along with two new styles it recently unveiled that represent a big change for the bike maker: the Bronx streetfighter and the Pan America adventure bike. They’re smaller, lighter, and meant for a different kind of riding than typified by Harley’s cruisers.

Polaris has also introduced a new bike, the FTR 1200, which was inspired by its racing team’s success on the flat-track circuit. While many enthusiasts had hoped for a street version of the FTR 750 that was tearing up the track, Polaris came out with a somewhat bigger, more powerful bike that it also hopes changes the conversation about its products.

But the introduction of the FTR 1200 was flawed in several respects. Polaris was late to market with the bike, so it missed a good part of the sales season, and then misjudged demand for the different models, believing more buyers would want the base model when in reality there was higher demand for the race replica version.

The new model helped lift international sales in the quarter, but it may be a while before we see any impact here at home. Motorcycle sales typically dry up during the winter months, and it’s still unknown what kind of demand will be there come the spring.

The outlook isn’t bright for biking
Polaris Industries, unlike Harley, is more than just a motorcycle maker. It also makes side-by-side recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, and more recently boats. They help the powersports vehicle maker smooth out sales over the year. And motorcycles only account for 9% of total revenue.

Yet with motorcycle sales deepening even further into the red, Indian is mimicking the worst aspects of its rival at just the wrong time, and its problem could only get worse.

China’s Ninebot unveils scooters that drive themselves to charging stations

By General Posts

Ninebot said Uber and Lyft, the ride-hailing giants that are expanding into scooter-sharing, would be among the customers for the new semi-autonomous vehicles that are expected to hit roads early next year.

BEIJING/HONG KONG – Segway-Ninebot Group, a Beijing-based electric scooter maker, on Friday unveiled a scooter that can return itself to charging stations without a driver, a potential boon for the burgeoning scooter-sharing industry.

Ninebot said Uber and Lyft, the ride-hailing giants that are expanding into scooter-sharing, would be among the customers for the new semi-autonomous vehicles that are expected to hit roads early next year.

Gao Lufeng, Ninebot chairman and chief executive, told Reuters in an interview that AI-driven scooters, controlled remotely from the cloud, could radically improve the economics of scooter-sharing.

“The pain point for scooter operators is to better maintain the scooters at a lower cost,” he said. Currently, operators of scooter sharing fleets have to collect the machines manually for re-charging.

Formed by the 2015 combination of China’s Ninebot and U.S. transportation pioneer Segway, the company has quietly become the largest supplier for scooter-sharing companies such as Bird and Lime

“I believe scooters will replace bicycles as the prime solution for micro-mobility,” Gao said. “It’s human nature to save energy when commuting.”

The scooter-sharing fad was triggered two years ago with the launch of Bird in California. Venture-capital investors have since poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the sector, and fleets of electric-powered scooters now operate in cities across the U.S. and Europe.

Segway-Ninebot Group has applied to list its shares on the China’s new Nasdaq-style board for homegrown tech firms, the STAR Market. The company sold 1.6 million scooters in 2018, according to a prospectus filed in April.

Lyft and Uber did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

The new scooters will be priced at close to 10,000 yuan ($1,420), more than the company’s traditional scooters, which it sells to scooter companies for $100-$300.

The new machines will start road testing next month and will be largely commercialized in the first quarter of 2020.

The company also launched two self-driving delivery robots — one for outdoor delivery, the other for indoor services.

Ninebot said the unmanned delivery robots will initially serve the food delivery industry in China.

The company is in talks with food delivery operators, including Meituan Dianping and Alibaba Group’s Ele.me, to begin service by the first half of next year.

Electric scooter sharing firm VOI raises $30 million for European expansion

By General Posts

VOI-Electric scooter sharing firm VOI raises $30 million for European expansion

STOCKHOLM: Electric scooter sharing firm VOI Technology has raised $30 million in another fundraising round since being set up seven months ago for its European expansion and investment in research to fend off growing competition, it was reported on Monday.

Uber Technologies Inc, Alphabet and several other high-profile investors are very interested in gambling on scooter-sharing leading to rapid rise in Europe thanks to large commuter populations and lower levels of car ownership compared to USA.

Domestic startups such as Tier and Dott and U.S. rivals Bird and Lime raised thousands of dollars in 2018 to expand further into the crowded marketplace after having successfully put many scooters on European roads.

VOI is backed by investors such as BlaBlaCar CEO Nicolas Brusson and venture fund Balderton Capital. Their belief they can beat rivals by building closer relationships with city authorities gives them an edge over competitors such as Uber.

Unlike major rivals, “asking ‘permission’ before we enter new towns and cities means we can work with the authorities on the ground to offer more than just a viable alternative to cars,” CEO Fredrik Hjelm said. We could also “help people to combine their e-scooter journeys with the existing public transport network,” he added.

People can locate nearby VOI scooters via an app or maps and then ride it by paying a 1 euro unlocking fee plus riding costs of 0.15 euro per minute.

August launch has seen VOI build up over 400,000 riders, taking more than 750,000 rides, and it said it would use the new funds to expand in Italy, Germany, Norway and France.

Critics warn operators could face similar issues as bike sharing firms. Forced into price wars due to competition and facing backlash from authorities over rules and vandalism, bike operators GoBee and Mobike have retreated from Europe.