GM Reports Weaker Q4, Full-Year US Sales

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General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) on Thursday posted U.S. fourth-quarter sales of 785,229 vehicles, a decrease of 2.7% compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. For the full year, sales are down 1.6% from 3.00 million in 2017 to 2.95 million.

The Chevy Silverado pickup and Equinox sport utility vehicle are the company’s two best-selling vehicles, with full-year totals of 585,864 units and 290,458 units, respectively.

The company reported an end-of-year inventory of 755,000 units, essentially unchanged compared to the end of last year.

Summing previous monthly estimates for October and August, GM’s new vehicle sales for the fourth quarter were forecast at 764,000 by analysts at Cox Automotive. The actual total was about 2.8% above the Cox estimate. Kelley Blue Book analysts also estimated an average transaction price of $40,942 in December, up 0.5% year over year. KBB does not include applied consumer incentives to its calculation.

GM said average fourth-quarter incentive spending of 12.7% was one percentage point lower for the same period a year and full-year incentive spending came in at 13.0%, down 0.3 points compared with 2017.

Fourth-quarter sales of the company’s top-selling Silverado pickup fell by 3.6% year over year to 161,178 units, while GMC Sierra sales rose by 6.1% to 67,312 units. For the full year, Silverado sales were flat year over year and Sierra sales were up by 0.7%.

Sales of the Colorado midsize pickup rose 0.1% in the quarter to 30,004 units, and the comparable GMC Canyon saw a sales decrease of 7.0% to 8,219 units in the third quarter. For the year, Colorado sales are up 19.3% and Canyon sales are up 4.3%.

Cadillac brand retail sales fell by 2.7% in the fourth quarter and by 1.1% for the full year. Cadillac sales totaled 41,462 units in the quarter and 154,702 for the year.

Total Chevrolet deliveries in the fourth quarter dropped by 3.2% year over year to 531,985 units. The Chevy Equinox SUV posted a sales decrease of 26.4% in the quarter, and the Impala full-size sedan saw a sales decline of 49.9%. Sales of the all-electric Chevy Bolt dropped 30.9% in the quarter and 22.7% for the full year. Chevy brand sales dropped 1.4% for the full year compared with 2017 sales.

The company’s Buick brand saw a year-over-year sales decrease of 13.7% in the fourth quarter, including a 53.2% plunge in LaCrosse sales. The Buick Encore posted a year-over-year sales gain of just 0.2% in the quarter. For all of 2018, Buick brand sales fell 5.6% compared to 2017 sales.

For the auto industry as a whole, GM’s forecast for the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales for the fourth quarter of 2018 is 17.7 million and 17.3 million for the full year. Cox Automotive projected a SAAR of 17.2 million for 2018.

Later this month, GM will report on sales in China, the company’s largest market. New car sales in China were down 14.9% year over year in the third quarter and down 2.5% compared to the first nine months of 2017. GM sold a total of 4.04 million vehicles in China last year, about a third more than in the United States.

GM’s stock traded down by about 2.2% Thursday morning, at $32.91 in a 52-week range of $30.56 to $45.52. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $45.09.

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