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Dec. 25, 2006 – Finance Digest

December 25, 2006
Filed under Features

Wisconsin offers Harley-Davidson $4.5 million in tax credits
Harley-Davidson Motor Co. will receive $4.5 million in enterprise zone jobs tax credits from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to support an expansion of its Menomonee Falls facility, ongoing workforce training and development, and the continued growth of Harley-Davidson in the state.
After considering expansion outside Wisconsin, Harley-Davidson and members of Local 2-209 of the United Steel Workers came to an agreement to expand engine and transmission facilities in Milwaukee — an expansion that will enable the company to create new jobs in Wisconsin.
The tax credits are tied to plans by Harley-Davidson to invest $300 million in the state over the next several years and will be used to facilitate the creation of up to 200 additional jobs and retention of the company’s approximate 4,100 existing Wisconsin jobs. About 100 of those new jobs are related to the planned Menomonee Falls plant expansion.
“A few weeks ago, many thought these additional jobs were heading out of Wisconsin, but the company, the union, and my administration never gave up,” Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said. “Because of our work together, Harley will expand right here in Wisconsin and retain its operations in this state.”
“Gov. Doyle and the Department of Commerce were extremely supportive and engaged throughout our decision-making process on the expansion,” said Jim McCaslin, Harley-Davidson Motor Co. president and chief operating officer.


Piaggio Net Profit Up 20.4 percent
Italy’s Piaggio & C. SpA said net profits for the first nine months of the year were up 20.4 percent to Euro 77.6 million ($103 million) as a result of increased sales in the United States, Europe and India.
Piaggio said sales for the first nine months of the year totaled Euro 1.285 billion ($1.7 billion), up 10.4 percent from the same period last year and near the Euro 1.45 billion in consolidated net sales for full-year 2005.
The company said operating profits were boosted by a 60 percent rise in two-wheeler sales in the United States as well as increased demand for light commercial vehicles in Europe and India.
In other Piaggio news, the company recently announced a multi-pronged strategy to boost its business in India, where it currently only manufactures three-wheelers — or tuk-tuks — and light commercial vehicles.
One part of the strategy has the company re-entering India’s two-wheeler market after nearly a decade absence.
Piaggio’s previous effort in India operated via a joint venture with scooter manufacturer LML ended in 1999. The forthcoming two-wheelers will be built at a new production facility.
A second part of the strategy, already approved, is a project to spend Euro 65 million ($85 million) to build a factory in India to manufacture diesel engines. That facility is scheduled for completion in 2009.


BMW Cycle Sales Up in Canada
BMW Motorrad Canada says 1,172 units were sold there during the first 10 months of 2006, up 5.6 percent from sales during the same 10-month period in 2005.
BMW Group Canada, Whitby, Ontario, is a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW AG and is responsible for the distribution of BMW automobiles, motorcycles and MINI.


LoJack Corp. Reports decreased Third-Quarter Results
LoJack Corp. (Nasdaq NMS: LOJN) said net income for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 was $5.2 million, or $0.28 per fully diluted share, down 10 percent from $5.8 million, or $0.30 per fully diluted share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Third-quarter revenue was $54.87 million, up 5 percent from $52.25 million in the same period of 2005.
For the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, net income was $13.65 million, up 2 percent from $13.42 million. Revenue for the nine months ended Sept. 30 was $162.23 million, up 12 percent compared to $144.37 million in the nine-month period last year.
Third-quarter operating income was $7.18 million, down 18 percent from $8.76 million for the same quarter a year ago. Operating income for the nine months ended Sept. 30 was $19.39 million, down 5 percent.
“Our financial results for the third quarter were disappointing,” LoJack Chairman and CEO Joseph Abely said. “Reflected in the third-quarter results are significant investments for the long term, which include developing our new domestic markets, introducing the motorcycle product throughout the U.S. and building out the LoJack operation in Italy.”
LoJack, Westwood, Mass., operates in 26 states and the District of Columbia, representing areas of the country with the greatest population density and highest number of new vehicle sales and incidence of vehicle theft. In addition, LoJack technology is utilized by law enforcement and security organizations in more than 28 countries throughout Europe, Africa and Latin America.


DFS Offers New Online Prospecting Service
Dealers Finance Source (DFS), a Dallas-based provider of outsourced F&I solutions for powersports dealers, says a new strategic partnership with National Web Leads (NWL), an online lead generation firm based in Estero, Fla., will provide retailers with online customer prospecting capabilities.
NWL specializes in consumer finance online marketing campaigns focusing on vehicle-related consumer finance credit. The company builds and manages multiple online consumer finance marketing campaigns, which currently process thousands of consumer finance applications per day.
DFS says powersports dealers experience a 20 to 30 percent increase in profits within the first 90 days of using DFS F&I outsourcing services. The company says this new lead generation service provides “call ready”, verified potential buyers to DFS dealers and is designed to complement and enhance the traditional advertising methods used by those retailers.
“This gives an added benefit to both the powersports customer and dealers, as well as the lenders,” said Rob Colvin, NWL vice president of business development.


Sachs Spared by Buyout
Germany’s Sachs Fahrzeug-und Motorentechnik GmbH was rescued from bankruptcy by a Nov. 3 management buyout.
A producer of small displacement motorcycles and a supplier of small engines to third-party manufacturers, Sachs is the successor company of the Nuremberg-based Hercules Werke GmbH, which was established in 1886.
Bankruptcy proceedings began in June.


NYSE Seeks to Expand Globally
The NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE, Inc.) currently operates two securities exchanges: the NYSE and NYSE Arca, Inc. On June 1, NYSE, Inc. and Euronext N.V. announced an agreement to combine the leading U.S. and pan-European securities trading exchanges in a merger of equals. This new group is to be named NYSE Euronext.
John Thain, CEO of NYSE, Inc., said the transaction with Euronext will allow NYSE, Inc. “to build the first truly global marketplace.”
“We’re uniting the largest exchanges in the world’s two leading economies, the U.S. and the EU, the two major currencies, the dollar and the Euro, and we’ll span across multiple time zones and create the world’s largest pool of liquidity,” Thain said. “We believe the transition to a small number of large, global players that are multi-asset class and geographically diversified will provide products and make better markets for investors, issuers and eventually the world economy.”
The combined exchanges will list 80 of the world’s largest companies and have a combined market value of more than $28 trillion.
Thain said he foresees future deals happening with exchanges in Japan, China and India, and indicated NYSE, Inc. will continue to seek out new deals to take advantage of the ever-changing global market: “We began, first, with the merger with Archipelago through which we became a public for-profit company … we diversified our product mix into over-the-counter stocks, options, exchange traded funds; and we’re launching a new listings platform to pursue smaller, faster growing companies who don’t necessarily qualify to list on the New York Stock Exchange.”


Polaris opts out of one stock listing
Polaris Industries, Inc. plans to voluntarily withdraw its common stock from listing on NYSE Arca, Inc. (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, ArcaEx or Pacific Exchange). The move comes as the NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE, Inc.) works to stretch its reach into foreign markets.
Polaris said the decision to withdraw the listing was made to eliminate duplicative administrative requirements inherent with dual listings as a result of the recent merger of NYSE, Inc. with Archipelago Holdings, a move that formed NYSE Arca, Inc.
NYSE Arca will continue trading Polaris common stock on an unlisted trading privilege basis, and Polaris’ common stock will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under symbol PII.


Harley-Davidson Taps AT&T for Global Communications
Harley-Davidson recently selected AT&T, Inc. for a $10.5 million global networking contract in a move designed to increase efficiencies, standardize global processes and eliminate redundancies. The contract renews a long-standing relationship between the two companies.
Under terms of the agreement, AT&T will deploy an Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network integrating 27 Harley-Davidson locations in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific with a full range of voice, data and business continuity services. AT&T says the high-speed Multiprotocol Label Switching platform will provide Harley employees around the world with a consistent set of Internet tools.

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