October New Car Sales Wrap-up

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U.S. automakers General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), and Chrysler Group LLC all reported double-digit year-over-year new car sales growth in the U.S. today. The month started off slowly for some carmakers due to the government shutdown, but buyers were out in force later. Auto industry research firm Edmunds.com estimates October new car sales at about 1.2 million, and GM reckons that total U.S. sales will reach a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.6 million units in 2013.

GM posted the largest gain among all automakers, up 16% compared with October 2012 sales. The company sold more than 226,000 cars in October compared with over 195,000 a year ago. An analyst at Kelley Blue Book noted, “In addition to the hefty sales increase GM saw transaction prices hold steady on a year over year basis while fleet penetration dipped slightly, indicating that GM’s sales growth is supported by true demand from consumers rather than fleet sales and hefty incentives.” GM’s shares are trading about 0.7% higher in the early afternoon Friday at $37.21 after posting a new 52-week high of $38.21. The 52-week low is $23.39.

Ford’s sales rose 14% to nearly 192,000 units sold compared with about 168,000 in October 2012. Sales of its Fusion model soared 71% in year-over-year. A KBB analyst said, “With retail volume now at prerecession levels and transaction prices up more than 1.5 percent year over year in October, Ford should see a strong finish to the year.” Ford’s shares are up 1.7% at $16.83 ina 52-week range of $10.38 to $18.02.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. also posted a gain of 14% in October with sales of more than 91,000 vehicles. That was the good news for Nissan; the bad news was that the company cut its 2013 profit forecast by 15% earlier in the day.

Chrysler sales rose 11% to 140,000 units although sales were down 2% month-over-month from September. That may have been due to four fewer selling days in October. Analysts at KBB noted, “With sales up 11 percent and average transaction prices up close to 1 percent in October, Chrysler is well positioned to finish the year strong.”

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) reported sales up 8.8% to 169,000 vehicles. Toyota’s shares are up 0.2% at $129.16 in a 52-week range of $76.17 to $134.94.

Volkswagen AG was the lone loser in the October sales race, with sales tumbling 18% to just 28,000 units. For the full year Volkswagen said sales are “on par” with the first 10 months of 2012.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) does not report October sales until after markets close today. KBB forecasts Honda’s sales to rise by 12% year-over-year for the month.

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