Investors Ignore U.S. Auto Sales Outlook, Bet on Pickups and SUVs
Most major automakers on Jan. 3 reported lower December U.S. sales and forecast weaker overall sales in 2018, but investors bid up shares in the sector on a bet that high-margin pickup trucks and SUVs will pull Detroit’s automakers through any downturn.
The December numbers were above analyst expectations, lifting the shares of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. According to Autodata Corp, which tracks industry sales, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of U.S. car and light truck sales in December fell to 17.9 million units from 18.2 million in December 2016.
Investors were pleased GM had cut its inventory of unsold vehicles – a concern for the industry earlier in 2017 – at the end of December to 63 days supply unsold vehicles, beating its target of around 70 days supply. But GM said it expects the industry to sell less than 17 million new vehicles in 2018.
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