Ford Sales Drop 4% in October Leading to Inventory Boost

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Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) on Thursday reported October sales fell by 3.9% year over year to 192,616 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with October 2017 sales of 200,436. Passenger car sales fell 17.1% in the month while truck sales dropped 4.9% and sport utility vehicle sales rose 7.9%.

Total retail sales fell 4.9% year over year in October to 140,901 units, and fleet sales dropped by 1.2% to 51,715 units. Sales of F-Series pickups fell 7.3% to 70,438 units.

Ford’s passenger car sales continued tumbling in October but Ford remains upbeat on its strategy prioritize SUV, van and truck sales. Four out of five October sales came from that priority group and transaction pricing ran at record levels for the month.

Total monthly sales compare to an estimate of 180,000 by analysts Cox Automotive. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) estimated an average transaction price of $40,434, up 1.3% year over year and up 0.1% compared with September’s average selling price of $40,393. KBB transaction prices do not include applied consumer incentives.

Ford said its overall average transaction price for the month increased by $1,400 year over year to $36,800. F-Series transaction prices are running at “record levels” of $47,300 per truck, some $2,000 above the industry average for the segment.

Truck sales comprised 46% of October sales, and the F-Series pickups accounted for 36.6% of total monthly sales. Both percentages are lower than September levels.

Total Ford SUV sales rose by 7.9% year over year in October, with Expedition sales up 74.7% to 3,623 and Explorer sales up by 12.5% to 19,034 units. The company’s best-selling SUV, the Escape, posted sales of 20,515 units in October, down 11.1% year over year.

Ford-brand passenger car sales dropped by 16% year over year, with sales of Fusion down 9.1% and Focus sales down 51.1%. Mustang sales dipped by 6% to 4,924 units, while Fiesta sales rose 65.7% to 5,665.

Sales of the Lincoln brand fell by 15% year over year in October as sales of Lincoln cars dropped by 31.6%. Car sales totaled 2,195 units in the month and SUV sales totaled 5,379 units, down by 5.7% year over year. Navigator sales rose 70% to 1,115 units.

Ford reported 87 days of total inventory, up by 10 days compared with September and eight more days compared with October of last year. This number bears watching because any value above 90 or so is generally a negative for automakers. Dealer stock totaled 68 days of supply, up from 61 days in September and from 65 last year.

Ford’s stock traded down about 1.8% Thursday morning to $9.38. Its 52-week range is $8.17 to $13.48, and the 12-month consensus price target is $9.89.

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