Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson soon will get a new CEO, leaving investors to wonder where the Milwaukee company is headed. In a surprise move, Matt Levatich stepped down from the post and his board seat last week. He’ll be replaced temporarily by board member Jochen Zeitz until a search firm finds a new chief executive. Levatich will help with the transition through March. In a note to investors, Raymond James analyst Joseph Altobello wrote there may have been board frustration over the pace of Harley’s “More Roads” growth strategy.
“HOG has seen declining U.S. retail (sales) in each of the past five years (although this appears to be largely due to industry headwinds rather than market share losses),” Altobello wrote. Harley has been struggling to adapt to an aging customer base while looking to attract more female and younger riders and expand markets overseas. Altobello wrote that he sees a sense of continuity with Zeitz, a former chairman and CEO of the Puma sporting goods company who has been on the board since 2007. But Altobello is waiting for the permanent replacement to see if the strategy changes.