Polaris experienced 2% sales growth in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2019, partly due to the improved sales performance of ATVs and Indian Motorcycles, the OEM noted during its earnings call this week.
Polaris does not break down specific figures, but sales for the off-road vehicle segment increased in the low-single digit percentage year over year. Specifically, side-by-side sales were up in the low-single digit percentage and ATV sales increased in the mid-single digit percentage.
The growth in ATV sales bucks the downward sales trend the vehicles were following since the third quarter of 2018, and the sales increase was partly due to the OEM pulling back on ATV pricing.
“We did lose some share last year,” Scott Wine, chief executive of Polaris, said on the call. “It is the most price-sensitive part of the market that we plan, and we probably took more risk there with our price increases last year. Throughout the year, we learned from that, we made adjustments and I think we exited the year feeling comfortable that we know how to be very competitive and still make good money in the ATV market.”
The OEM also experienced a sales increase for Indian Motorcycles, which rose in the low-single digit percentage. The introduction of the FTR 1200 in the first half of 2019 and the Challenger toward the end of October contributed to the sales growth, Wine said. However, three-wheeled Slingshot sales were down, falling in the high 20 percent range. Polaris expressed a positive outlook for Slingshot sales in 2020 following the launch of the new Slingshot model.
Looking broadly at 2019, total sales grew 12% to $6.8 billion for the full year, with every segment experiencing a sales increase. The off-road vehicle/snowmobile segment and the motorcycle segment both rose 7% YoY.
Polaris expects sales in the first quarter of 2020 to be flat and is lowering the initial stocking levels for dealers, which may indicate that the OEM is more cautious about sales in 2020, BMO Capital Markets Analyst Gerrick Johnson wrote in a report provided to Powersports Finance.
“There are two ways to look at this reduction in profiles,” Johnson said. “On one hand, Polaris and its dealers may be more cautious about the 2020 selling season. Polaris insists this is not the case. Instead, management believes that the company is now more efficient in replenishing its dealers using the retail flow management program and this efficiency has allowed it to start the season with less stock at each dealership. We think the real answer is probably somewhere in between.”