Auto Sales Fizzle

by: Wall Street Strategies

By David Urani

Auto sales picked up well for most of this year, and through November it appeared as though auto sales would surpass the 16 million SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate) mark for the year, up from 14.5 million last year. However, the various automakers put out their December numbers Friday and they didn't come in too encouragingly.

GM posted a 6.3% decline in sales in December, whereas the Street had been looking for a 1.5% increase. Retail sales were down 6%, while fleet sales were off 9%. The yearly total, however, was still up 10.8%.

Ford (NYSE:F) posted a 2% increase in sales for December, but that came in below estimates for a 5.9% increase. That made for 2.5 million units total for the year, an increase of 10.8%.

Chrysler's (owned by Fiat (FIADF)) December sales were up 6%, with increases in the Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands, partially offset by a 21% decline in the Chrysler brand.

Toyota's (OTCPK:TOYOF) December sales were up 2.2%, while the 2.24 million annual total was up 7.4%. Toyota management now expects continued strength in 2014, with sales rising to pre-recession levels.

VW (OTCPK:VLKAF) ended a disappointing year with a 22.7% drop in December, with its 407,704 unit total for the year being down 6.9%.

So the results fizzled into year end, and in fact now two of the manufacturers (Chrysler and GM) are projecting industry sales to fall short of 16 million units for 2013. Nevertheless, total industry sales are still likely to be up in the range of 8% for the year which isn't bad.