GM Reports Q3 Sales Down 11%

October 2, 2018 by Paul Ausick

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) on Tuesday posted U.S. third-quarter sales of 694,638 vehicles, a decrease of 11.1% compared with the third quarter of 2017. Fleet deliveries amounted to about 21% of quarterly sales. At the end of the quarter, about one-third of GM’s sales were made for 2019 models.

For the year to date, GM has sold 2.17 million units, down by 1.2% over the same period last year. The Chevy Silverado pickup and Equinox sport utility vehicle are the company’s two best-selling vehicles.

GM no longer reports monthly sales. The fourth-quarter sales report is scheduled for release on January 3, 2019.

The company reported about 22,000 fewer units in inventory at the end of September but did not provide detailed inventory numbers as it has in the past.

Summing previous monthly estimates for July and August, GM’s new vehicle sales for the third quarter were forecast at 728,000 by analysts at Cox Automotive. The actual total was about 4.6% below the Cox estimate. Kelley Blue Book analysts also estimated an average transaction price of $40,516 in September, up 4% year over year, though it does not include applied consumer incentives to its calculation.

GM said average third-quarter incentive spending of 12% was slightly lower than the industry average of 12.1% in the quarter.

Third-quarter sales of the company’s top-selling Silverado pickup fell by 14.3% year over year to 133,329 units, while GMC Sierra sales dropped by 7.1% to 51,368 units. For the first three quarters of 2018, Silverado sales are up 1.4% year over year and Sierra sales are down by the same amount.

Sales of the Colorado midsize pickup rose 6.8% in the quarter to 34,963 units, and the comparable GMC Canyon saw a sales increase of 0.5% to 8,425 units in the third quarter. For the year to date, Colorado sales are up 26.3% and Canyon sales are up 8.6%.

Cadillac brand retail sales fell by 10.7% in the third quarter. Cadillac sales totaled 37,291 units in the quarter, driven by sales of the XTS and CTS.

Total Chevrolet deliveries in the third quarter dropped by 11.4% year over year to 485,019 units. The Chevy Equinox SUV posted a sales decrease of 1.6% in the quarter, and the Impala full-size sedan saw a sales decline of 16.2%.

Sales of the company’s Suburban and Tahoe SUVs rose 10.8% and 20.1%, respectively. The all-electric Chevy Volt saw a sales gain of 22.9% to 5,429 units.

The company’s Buick brand saw a year-over-year sales decrease of 7.3% in the third quarter, including a 31.1% plunge in LaCrosse sales. The Buick Enclave posted a year-over-year sales gain of 7.1%, and Encore sales fell 5.9%.

For the auto industry as a whole, GM’s forecast for the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales at the end of the third quarter of 2018 is 16.9 million. Cox Automotive projected a SAAR of 17.1 million for the end of September.

GM’s stock traded down by about 1.7% Tuesday morning, at $33.60 in a 52-week range of $33.82 to $46.76. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $45.47.