Every major carmaker except GM has beat on auto sales so far

Carmakers are reporting their US sales numbers in May on Thursday, following year-over-year declines every month since January.

So far, the major carmakers have reported sales that were better than analysts forecast. GM reported the worst drop relative to expectations among the Big Three.

Analysts estimate that sales rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.90 million, according to Bloomberg, little improved from the 16.88 million pace recorded in April.

Here’s the latest:

  • Nissan: 3% (0.6% expected)
  • Ford: 2.3% (0.1% expected)
  • GM: -1.3% (4.3% expected)
  • Fiat Chrysler: -1% (-3.9% expected)
  • Honda: 0.9% (-0.7% expected)
  • Toyota: -0.5% (-1.3% expected)

After seven straight years of record-setting numbers, the slowdown this year suggests that the market may have peaked.

“While the survey results for this week and, hence, Memorial Day weekend are not in yet; we believe investors should not expect too much from this month’s SAAR,” Evercore ISI analysts said in a preview.

“A third consecutive month sub-17 million will not be good for sentiment with auto investors calling the “end of the cycle” for several quarters now and questions around the need for further production cuts continuing unabated. However, despite being short of expectations at the beginning of the year and indeed the beginning of the month, we do not believe that 16.9Mn represents a “disaster”; though three months sub-17Mn does suggest the market is softening.

Key data points to look out for include how much automakers are still using incentives to woo prospective buyers, and inventory levels, particularly for General Motors. GM’s auto inventory hit a 10-year high.

This post will be updated as the sales numbers are released. More to come …

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