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Polaris lays off 300 as it closes Iowa plant, moves some production to MN

The plant closure comes despite the company announcing better-than-expected financial results Tuesday.
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Off-road vehicle and motorcycle maker Polaris is closing down a manufacturing plant in Iowa, and laying off around 300 workers.

The Sioux City Journal reports Polaris is shutting down its factory in Milford, where it makes Polaris Ranger and Rzr all-terrain vehicles and the Brutus utility vehicle. It will shift production to three factories, including its plant in Roseau, Minnesota.

The Twin Cities-based company told the newspaper the Milford plant was one of its smaller facilities and closing it will allow it to consolidate production of similar products, and better utilize capacity across the rest of its U.S. factories.

It's been a troubled past two years for the company, which has issued multiple product recalls for more than 330,000 of its off-roaders and motorcycles because of fire risks, as the Star Tribune reports.

But in spite of this, Polaris' first-quarter results (released on Tuesday) show better performance than analysts were expecting.

The company reported a net loss of $2.9 million, but this includes the cost impact of shutting down its Victory Motorcycles brand. When this is taken out of the equation, Polaris actually turned a profit of $48.3 million – up from $46.8 million this time last year.

Much of this, the company said, was down to the continued strength of its Indian Motorcycles, the success of which prompted the company to wind down the Victory line.

Its off-road vehicle sales also did well, with sales growing during the quarter in spite of its recall problems, suggesting the worst is over and the market for off-roaders is on an upswing.

CEO Scott Wine said the company has made "significant investments in people, process and technology" to get the recall issue under the control, with the aim to identify and react earlier to any safety and quality issues.

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