General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) will no longer report monthly car sales. Management says it creates a distorted picture of how GM is doing. The decision may not mean much since there are so many accurate measures from research companies.
In announcing the deal, Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations for General Motors, said:
Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market.
The broader public can get monthly sales numbers from the larger car consumer research firms, which include Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book. Edmunds recently pegged it GM March forecast at 265,750. KBB’s estimate was 275,000. Both allow the broader public to have a highly accurate estimate of monthly sales.
Wall Street analysts who cover the car manufacturing industry also provide estimates for their own traders and large clients. Given the breadth of their access to data of car sales trends that few organizations have, their figures are likely to be as good or better than those that are made more public. Since institutional investors who drive car stock prices up and down rely on these estimates, GM has not dodged one of the primary audiences from which it wants to hide its numbers.
Third-party research firms also keep data on monthly car sales that are as accurate as Wall Street estimates. These include auto research juggernaut J.D. Power. This third-party research is sold to institutions that need highly accurate forecasts.
GM’s decision will not do what management would like. It is merely a way to shield outsiders from data forecasts that are extremely accurate. If anything, the GM decision makes the country’s largest car company wary of offering something it has offered for decades.