U.S. Auto Sales Decline Slows in August, GM Posts Surprising Gain

Includes: DDAIF, F, GM, HMC, NSANY, TM
by: Steven Towns

U.S. auto sales declined only 0.6% in August, surprising many who thought a weak housing market and credit market woes would continue to dampen sales, following declines of 12% in July and 3% in June. General Motors said Tuesday U.S. sales jumped over 5% in August to 388,168 vehicles, amid a 6.1% gain in sales of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. Analysts had forecasted the automaker's sales would fall 4%. Car sales fell 7.8% while sales of light trucks rose 16.5%. Toyota, which outsold Ford for the first time on a calendar year basis, said U.S. sales fell an unexpected 2.8% due to reduced credit availability and weak consumer confidence. Passenger car sales fell 8% to 115,718, while sales of Lexus luxury vehicles climbed 7.7%. Light truck sales were up 2%. Ford, meanwhile, reported a 14% drop in sales to 218,332 cars and light trucks, as passenger car sales fell 34%, while trucks and SUVs were down just 2.4%, boosted by an 82% jump in sales of redesigned crossover vehicles. Sales at Chrysler fell 6% to 168,203 vehicles, hurt by a 12% drop in truck sales (inc. SUVs and minivans). Honda posted a 4.7% increase to a single-month record 158,342 vehicles. Nissan's sales rose 6.5% to 95,527 vehicles. Shares of DaimlerChrysler gained 3.9% to $92.57 leading all autos, followed by GM +3.8% to $31.92, Ford +2.3% to $7.99, Honda +1.7% to $33.49, Toyota +1.1% to $116.95 and Nissan +0.6% to $19.22.

Sources: Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times
Commentary: GM Bucks Trend with 5% August Sales GainToyota U.S. Sales Drop an Unexpected 2.8%Ford U.S. Sales Fall 14%
Stocks/ETFs to watch: GM, TM, F, DAI, HMC, OTCPK:NSANY
Earnings call transcript: General Motors Q2 2007, Toyota Motor F1Q08 (Qtr End 6/30/07), Ford Q2 2007

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