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U.S. Car Sales Are Tanking and Inventories Are Rising -- This Is Not What Anyone Wants to See

The Street logo The Street 7/3/2017 Gregory Morcroft
U.S. Car Sales Are Tanking and Inventories Are Rising -- This Is Not What Anyone Wants to See© TheStreet U.S. Car Sales Are Tanking and Inventories Are Rising -- This Is Not What Anyone Wants to See

U.S. automakers reported on Monday what many analysts have been warning about for several months; new car sales are down sharply for the fourth consecutive month and dealer inventories are building as consumers have already choked the nation's highways with SUVs and trucks as fuel prices remain low and the economy recovers.

General Motors Corp. said on Monday that its sales fell 4.7 percent to 243,155 units in June versus an expected 1.3 percent drop predicted by the industry-tracking Kelley Blue Book.

Kelley also said GM's average sale price rose 0.2 percent from a year ago to $38,507.

Chevrolet sales fell 6.4 percent to 169,842 units; GMC sales fell 3.6% to 41,434; Buick sales surprised with a 16.4 gain to 19,299 and Cadillac sales plunged 11.8 percent to 12,580.

Crossovers are the bright spot for GM at the moment, and it said its sales in that category rose 23 percent, "due largely to the strength of Chevrolet Equinox, which were up 36 percent. Buick's U.S. retail sales were up 6 percent."

GM's U.S. Commercial sales rose 36 percent, for its best June since 2006. Business and government sales were 77 percent of GM's fleet sales for the month. U.S. daily rental sales were down nearly 11,000 vehicles or 54 percent in June, as planned.

GM said it had 105 days of supply in inventory, compared to 101 days at the end of May.

For electric vehicle fans, GM said it sold 1,642 Chevy Bolts, up from May's total.

GM shares rose 0.5% on Monday, to trade at $35.10.

In late June General Motors' CFO Chuck Stevens told analysts on a conference call that "challenging pricing" dynamics will likely see 2017 sales in the "low 17 million" range following last year's record tally of 17.55 million.

U.S. car sales hit the skids.© Provided by Thestreet.com U.S. car sales hit the skids.

Shares of Ford Motor Company F on Monday, July 3, were climbing higher during the Monday morning trading, following the release of results.

Ford Motor Co. came in ahead of estimates for a 9.7% drop in sales estimated by Kelley Blue Book, reporting a 5.1% decrease in unit sales during June.

June retail results totaled 152,396 vehicles, flat versus last year's retail results.

While passenger car sales fell 23%, truck sales climbed by more than 1% and SUV sales rose over 3%.

Ford's year-to-date U.S. sales are down 3.8% with roughly 1.3 million units sold.

Ford shares rose 3.7 percent to $11.60.

Despite no shortage of reasons why investors should be skeptical of the auto industry right now, TheStreet contributor Jonas Elmerraji says that between talk of "peak vehicle" slowing sales in car companies' biggest markets, corporate shake-ups and continued earnings pressure from a hardy U.S. dollar, there are some good reasons to be careful about U.S. car stocks right now.

In other words, the price action fits the narrative.

But if you're thinking about ignoring Ford and GM for the rest of the year, think again.

Elmerraji says chatter in the car industry this year is wrong. And, from a technical standpoint this summer, both of these Detroit auto giants are both teetering on the edge of a major breakout.

Fiat Chrysler said that in June, retail sales of 139,947 units fell 5 percent compared with the same month in 2016, and represented 75 percent of total sales.

"In line with FCA's strategy to reduce sales to the daily rental segment, fleet sales of 47,401 units were down as expected 15 percent year over year. The largest planned volume reduction in June fleet sales came from the Jeep brand which reduced its fleet sales number by 49 percent year over year. Fleet sales represented 25 percent of total June sales," the company said in a press release.

Sales of the Ram pickup truck rose 5 percent year over year for its best June sales ever, Fiat said.

Jeep Grand Cherokee sales rose 21 percent in June for its best June sales since 2005. "In addition," the company said, "the Jeep Renegade recorded its best June sales ever. The Jeep Compass posted its best sales month so far this year."

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