HOG could be a good value play even with a trade war

July 13, 2018

HOG could be a good value play even with a trade war

At the end of May, steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada were imposed by the Trump administration amid a whirlwind of criticism, coming from all three countries and from just about every mainstream news media outlet as well. In the long run, the actual effect of these tariffs, and others levied against China remains to be seen, but as investors, it’s important to understand that no matter what the long-term outcome will be, good or bad, in the short term the markets will inevitably interpret any kind of conflict in trade as a negative thing. That interpretation manifests in daily market activity as uncertainty and volatility, and so it isn’t surprising that many of the industries that either produce steel and aluminum, or that rely on the material for their finished products, have been under some pressure.

Harley Davidson, Inc. (HOG) is one of the stocks that has really been under pressure throughout the year, and the tension over tariffs certainly hasn’t helped matters. One of just a few worldwide brands that can truly be considered “an American icon,” the stock opened the year at around $52 and climbed as high as about $56 before dropping back to a low around $40 at the beginning of May. The imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs actually gave the stock a temporary boost, lifting it to about $46 in late June before it dropped back to its current level a little shy of $43.

Over the last week or so, the company has come under fire from Trump himself by deciding to move its international manufacturing operations out of the U.S. Management has even attributed at least a portion of the decision to tariffs, since most of the countries targeted by the U.S. have responded in kind. Offshoring their international manufacturing should give the company a way to avoid export tariffs to key markets like Europe, but it has also drawn ire from the President, since the move threatens U.S. manufacturing jobs (although the company has not indicated any existing jobs would be lost). The negative press is one of the prime reasons the stock has dropped back near to its 52-week lows, but that drop also creates a pretty interesting opportunity for value-oriented investors. I think the fact the company is willing to think, and act proactively to address issues that it believes will impact its ability to do business is a positive in the long run. Call this an “anti-Trump” play if you want, but if the trade war doesn’t get resolved in what businesses feel is a reasonable period of time, and it really does starts to effect corporate growth, we may see other companies following HOG’s lead.

Fundamental and Value Profile

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company for the groups of companies doing business as Harley-Davidson Motor Company (HDMC) and Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS). The Company operates in two segments: the Motorcycles & Related Products (Motorcycles) and the Financial Services. The Motorcycles segment consists of HDMC, which designs, manufactures and sells at wholesale on-road Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as well as motorcycle parts, accessories, general merchandise and related services. The Company manufactures and sells at wholesale cruiser and touring motorcycles. The Financial Services segment consists of HDFS, which provides wholesale and retail financing and insurance-related programs to the Harley-Davidson dealers and their retail customers. HDFS is engaged in the business of financing and servicing wholesale inventory receivables and retail consumer loans for the purchase of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. HOG has a current market cap of $7.1 billion.

  • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased 18%, while sales increased only about 2.65%. Over the last quarter, both numbers are quite a bit more encouraging, with earnings more than doubling versus the quarter prior, and sales increasing more than 30%. Also, over the trailing twelve months, Net Income was a little less than 10% of Revenue, while over the last quarter it increased to a little over 11%.
  • Free Cash Flow: HOG’s Free Cash Flow is healthy at about $826 million. Their available cash and liquid assets also increased over the last quarter by more than 10%.
  • Debt to Equity: HOG has a debt/equity ratio of 2.06. While this number decreased in the last quarter, HOG remains one of the most highly leveraged companies in its industry. Their balance sheet indicates that operating profits are more than sufficient to service their debt.
  • Dividend: HOG pays an annual dividend of $1.48 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a dividend yield of 3.46%.
  • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for HOG is $11.85 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 3.6.  That’s a bit higher than I usually like to see, but the average for the Automobiles industry is 4.6, while the historical average for HOG is 4.5. A move to par with its historical average would put HOG a little above $53 per share, almost 25% higher than its current price.

Technical Profile

Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.


  • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The red diagonal line traces the stock’s decline from its 52-week high at nearly $56 per share to its downward trend low in early May around $39. The stock picked up bullish momentum from that point to rally to a short-term high at around $46 per share before dropping back to around $40 in late June. The stock appears to have been building some positive momentum from that point. The horizontal red lines on the right side of the chart mark Fibonacci retracement lines based on the highlighted downward trend; the first line, around $46 is the 38.2% retracement level, which usually acts as a pretty significant inflection point. If the stock can break above resistance at that level, I expect to see the stock rally near to the 61.8% retracement line around $50. A break above $46 would also mark a reversal of the downward trend and should give the stock room to rally to the $53 to $54 level. Immediate support is around $40, and a break below that point could see the stock drop into the mid-$30 range, which is where the next likely support from historical pivots points lies.
  • Near-term Keys: If you’re looking for a short-term bullish bump, wait to see if the stock can break above $46 per share. A strong break, with good buying volume would act as a good signal to buy the stock or work with call options. If you’re willing to work with a long-term investment, the fundamentals and value proposition are strong enough to warrant taking a position immediately. If you prefer to follow the direction of the current downward trend and work with the bearish side, wait to see if the stock drops below $40. A move to $39 would be a good indication to short the stock or start working with put options.

By Thomas Moore Industrials Investiv Daily Tariffs Share: