Harley-Davidson is 1 of 3 shorts to ride now: Lamensdorf

With the S&P 500 (^GSPC) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) hovering at all-time highs and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) ready to join the party, it’s not a bad time to take a deep dive into some of the stocks that may be poised to fall. Brad Lamensdorf, CIO, of The Lamensdorf Market Timing Report, has done some work on three of these companies that he’s betting against. He holds short positions in all three. Here’s an excerpt from his interview.

Harley-Davidson (HOG)

The iconic maker of bikes such as the Low Ride and Wide Glide may be about to hit a road bump says Lamensdorf who is concerned about one of the bike maker’s biggest rivals. “They have had a lot of competition from The Indian from Polaris (PII). Those bikes are so much less than what Harley’s used bikes are even selling for. It’s been destroying some of the pricing for them.” Riders can buy a new Indian Scout for $ 10,999 according to the Polaris website. Plus, sales of new Harley’s in the U.S. dropped 1.6% during the fourth quarter, according to the company. Lamensdorf is also worried about the easy lending environment underway in the auto business. “We think we are in a bit of an auto finance bubble,” adding that Equifax reported subprime has risen to approximately a third of auto loan originations through last year. Harley-Davidson is exposed to the lending industry through its Harley Davidson Financial Services arm.  So far this year the stock is little changed.

PVH Corp. (PVH)

You may not recognize PVH right away but chances are you may be wearing a piece of clothing it’s manufacturers. Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors are among PVH’s many brands and for Lamensdorf that’s part of the problem. “They have about 1,500 different manufacturing units that create all of their clothes,” which he believes is too complex. “It’s creating a lot of extra costs and that I don’t think the street realizes is there.” PVH shares have declined 16% this year through today. Not mincing words, he says PVH is “kind of a train wreck.” PVH shares have lost over 16% this year.

 Cree Inc. (CREE)

Cree, the maker of LED lighting, is cranking out higher performing and more efficient lighting products. The problem, says Lamensdorf, so is everyone else including Home Depot (HD), which handles about 75% of Cree’s distribution. “Home Depot is coming out with out their light, they are going to start limiting space for Cree on that,” he cautions plus other rivals are ramping up similar products. “You have Sylvania and Philips (PHG) that are starting to sell inside of the channels at CVS (CVS) and supermarkets.” In his view the LED market is growing, but Cree’s share of that market is not. Plus, it trades at a lofty price-to-earnings ratio of 58X. Shares of Cree have gained 22% this year.

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