GM Reports Lower Sales, Higher Prices on Pickups

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) on Tuesday posted U.S. first-quarter sales of 665,840 vehicles, a decrease of 7% compared with the first quarter of 2018. Year over year, sales dropped 2.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The Chevy Silverado pickup and Equinox SUV are the company’s two best-selling vehicles, with first-quarter totals of 114,313 units and 88,500 units, respectively.

The company reported an end-of-the-quarter inventory of 818,957 units, up about 63,000 compared to the end of the prior quarter. GM said this was a “healthy” level as it heads into the typically strong second quarter for sales.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, commented on GM sales:

Sales were down slightly more than we expected. GM is drawing down its car business so that played a part. It also appears the truck market is getting increasingly competitive. Ram beat Chevrolet Silverado in total truck sales in the quarter, albeit Ram was juicing sales with heavy incentives while Chevrolet showed restraint.

GM said average first-quarter incentive spending was $175 lower compared with the same period a year ago. Incentive spending came in at 13%, down a full point compared with the first quarter of last year.

Fourth-quarter sales of the company’s top-selling Silverado pickup fell by 15.7% year over year, while GMC Sierra sales dipped by 2.2% to 40,546 units.

Sales of the Colorado midsize pickup rose 16.1% in the quarter to 33,494 units, and the comparable GMC Canyon saw a sales decrease of 3.6% to 6,954 units in the first quarter.

Cadillac brand retail sales fell by 2% in the first quarter, and Cadillac sales totaled 35,995 units compared to 36,727 in the year-ago quarter.

Total Chevrolet deliveries in the fourth quarter dropped by 7.8% year over year to 452,401 units. The Chevy Equinox sport utility vehicle posted a sales increase of 7.4% in the quarter, and the Impala full-size sedan saw a sales decline of 5.7%. Sales of the all-electric Chevy Bolt dropped 1.3% in the quarter.

The company’s Buick brand saw a year-over-year sales decrease of 8.7% in the first quarter, including a 58.9% plunge in LaCrosse sales. The Buick Encore posted a year-over-year sales drop of 3.4% in the quarter. Enclave sales rose by 27.5% to 12,580 units in the quarter.

First-quarter average transaction prices for the company’s light-duty trucks were $8,040 higher year over year, according to data from J.D. Power cited by GM. Light trucks, SUVs and crossovers accounted for more than 80% of GM sales in the first quarter.

GM’s stock traded up by about 0.2% Tuesday morning to $37.83, in a 52-week range of $30.56 to $45.00. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $47.14.

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