By David Silver
We turn the calendar again, and you know what that means -- auto sales. I know, try to contain that excitement. November is shaping up to be one of -- if not the -- best month of the year. Ford (NYSE:F), Toyota (NYSE:TM), and Chrysler all reported strong monthly results. General Motors (NYSE:GM) reported a sales increase compared to November 2011, but results were short of expectations. Ford's sales were 6.5% higher year over year, with small cars leading the way, gaining 15% while truck sales gained 3.7%. GM saw sales increase 3.4%, below the 7.6% that the Street was expecting.
Small cars were again strong during the month despite the drop in gasoline prices. Truck sales were relatively strong for Ford, gaining 3.7%, with Ford's F-150 full-size pickup truck increasing 17% while GM's rival Chevrolet Silverado pickup saw sales drop 10%. GM blamed the decrease on "increased competition," which boils down to GM got "its butt kicked by Ford." Chrysler put in a strong month as well, seeing sales increase 14.4% year over year, with truck sales increasing 10% (passenger car sales increased 27%).
Supply was a little high across the industry, which some are trying to blame on Hurricane Sandy (not sure I really buy that). But sales in the Northeast were definitely delayed due to the storm, and the 250,000 vehicles that were damaged during the storm eventually will need to be replaced. That is why I am so surprised about the increased inventories -- if vehicles were destroyed as a result of the storm (some of the damage must have been felt by inventories on dealers' lots), they should be heading out to purchase a new vehicle, not seeing increasing inventories. However, Hurricane Sandy didn't prevent Joe Plumber in the Corn Belt from purchasing his new car.