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GM Joins Chrysler Seeing Sales Missing Estimates After Sandy

Thursday, 01 November 2012 11:06 AM

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC forecast an October rate for U.S. auto industry sales that trailed analysts’ estimates after Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast during the industry’s busiest time of the month.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, predicted a 14.4 industry light-vehicle sales pace, which is adjusted for seasonal trends. Chrysler, which issued a similar outlook for the month, also joined GM, Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. in reporting deliveries that trailed estimates for their respective results.

Sandy’s strongest impact occurred on the coastline from New Hampshire to Virginia, putting a halt to car-buying activity at about 1,000 auto retailers in New York and New Jersey alone, dealership consultant Urban Science said. Typically in October, the last seven days of the month generate more than 30 percent of industry sales, according to researcher Edmunds.com.

“Anybody who reads these numbers as ‘the industry is softening’ is incorrect,” Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Santa Monica, California-based Edmunds, said by telephone. “The last weekend of the month and the last days of the month are the big days of cars sales because that’s when the deals are closed. So for auto sales, the storm couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

GM sales rose 4.7 percent to 195,764 from 186,895 a year earlier, according to an e-mailed statement. That missed the 7.8 percent average estimate of 11 analysts.

Chrysler’s Streak

Ford’s light-vehicle deliveries rose 0.3 percent and Chrysler’s climbed 10 percent, according to company statements. The automakers missed 11 analysts’ average estimates for gains of 3.2 percent by Ford and 15 percent for Chrysler. Most of those estimates were provided before superstorm Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29.

Ford deliveries of cars and light trucks increased to 167,947 in October from 167,502 a year earlier, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company said in a statement.

Chrysler, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, said sales climbed to 126,185 vehicles from 114,512 in its statement. The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company’s deliveries of the 300 sedan increased 40 percent to 5,183 and Ram pickups climbed 20 percent to 25,222. The automaker extended its streak of monthly sales gains from a year earlier to 31 consecutive months.

U.S. light-vehicle sales may have risen 12 percent in October to 1.15 million, according to nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Steady Recovery

The annualized industry sales rate, adjusted for seasonal trends, probably accelerated to 14.8 million, the average estimate of 16 analysts. Chrysler forecast a 14.7 million industry sales pace today in its statement. Chrysler’s forecast includes medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which usually account for at least 200,000 deliveries on an annualized basis.

The industry sales pace was 13.3 million in October 2011, when automakers led by Toyota and Honda Motor Co. were recovering from car-supply constraints following Japan’s tsunami last year. The U.S. auto market has been in steady recovery this year, culminating in September’s sales rate of 14.9 million, the best since March 2008, according to researcher Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Toyota, the No. 3 U.S. seller, said its sales rose 16 percent, trailing the 26 percent gain that was the average of eight analysts’ estimates. Volkswagen AG, with four estimates, was also projected to have a 26 percent gain for combined sales of its Volkswagen and Audi brands. VW brand sales rose 22 percent, the company said in statement.

Honda Clearance

Full Toyota results will be released later today, the company said in a statement on its website.

Projections for Honda sales trailed only Toyota’s and VW’s with eight analysts estimating an average increase of 16 percent for October. Honda urged dealers to clear stock of Civic compacts because the car is being refreshed late this year after criticism by reviewers including Consumer Reports.

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., both based in Seoul, may combine to sell 13 percent more vehicles in October than a year earlier, the average of six analysts’ estimates. Hyundai sales slid 4 percent to 50,271 in October, according to a company Twitter account.

Deliveries for Nissan Motor Co. may have risen 4.6 percent during the month, the average of eight estimates.

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General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC forecast an October rate for U.S. auto industry sales that trailed analysts estimates after Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast during the industry s busiest time of the month. GM, the largest U.S. automaker, predicted a 14.4...
Thursday, 01 November 2012 11:06 AM
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