Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Buffett loves Harley’s b@#es!

The latest cash infusion has guaranteed Harley Davidson short term working capital; but it surely would need even more for a joyous ride!

Imagine Warren Buffett riding away on a Harley-Davidson bike... Imagine... Yes, curse our imaginations, for all we care, but actually, the likes of Warren Buffett are taking quite a liking to the mean machine, once associated only with flashy leather jackets and beautiful ‘agents’! And it’s not like Buffett is getting any younger or is delving deep into ‘how to win hearts through brawny stunts’ (he’s 78 years already for Chrissake, and has lost most strands decorating his temple); all that he cares about is... business!

Buffett’s infusion of $300 million in the ailing Harley-Davidson on February 3, 2009, has given a boost to the liquidity of the company. The consideration was in lieu of ‘senior unsecured notes’ to Berkshire Hathaway. Even Davis Selected Advisers (Harley-Davidson’s biggest shareholder) bought a similar-class asset for a consideration of $300 million. However, the question to be asked is: will this aggregate of $600 million raised, guarantee that the bleeding bike manufacturer gets back on its wheels?

Of late, Harley-Davidson has been losing tremendous value on the bourses (see chart). Also, poor performance of its financing arm (HDFS) played havoc on it’s net earnings in Q4, 2008 (which deteriorated by a further 58%). The company then decided to cut 1,100 jobs and trim production considerably by 13%.

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2012. An Initiative of IIPMMalay Chaudhuri
and Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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