Auto Sales Fall Below 14M For First Time In 2012, Even As Detroit And Japan Surge

Auto sales fell below analyst expectations on Friday, as light vehicle sales declined to an annual pace of 13.7 million units against consensus estimates of 14.5 million in May.

Detroit saw strong improvements with Ford and GM gaining 13 and 11 per cent, respectively.

Toyota also saw strength, with sales up 87.3 per cent. However, year-ago results were impacted by supply chain issues in Asia, largely inflating this month’s results.

Below, the monthly trend in SAAR, which shows the tepid return of the auto industry.


Photo: BofA Merrill Lynch

BofA Merrill Lynch analysts John Murphy and Elizabeth Lane are still relatively sanguine on autos, writing in a note to clients that they “continue to believe that pent-up demand will be the primary driver of auto sales in the near term.” The analysts also point out that “mix remains OK in 2012 with the continuation of a relatively balanced barbell of large pickups and small & mid cars outperforming with some shifts in segments between,” which they describe as “encouraging.”

Citi analyst Malcolm Spittler, on the other hand, called the month of May a “surprisingly weak month for vehicle sales,” writing that the slowing pace makes it “possible that there could be a sequential decline in vehicle sales for the second quarter.”

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