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Analysts: Feb. Auto Sales Should Be Up

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Analysts: Feb. Auto Sales Should Be Up

By DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writer

Sat Feb 25, 12:20 AM ET

Despite a blizzard, February auto sales should be higher than last year thanks to heavy advertising, a blitz of new products and the continued strength of Asian automakers, industry analysts said Friday.

Several Wall Street analysts predicted U.S. sales will be up between 1 percent and 3 percent over last February when automakers report sales Wednesday.

General Motors Corp. could be among the biggest beneficiaries after piquing customers' interest with advertising during the Super Bowl and the Olympics, Goldman Sachs auto analyst Robert Barry said in a note to investors. GM is seeing healthy sales of its new cars, including the Buick Lucerne and Chevrolet HHR, Barry said.

Tim Ryan, a manager at Don Brown Chevrolet in St. Louis, said he is selling the HHR retro crossover as fast as he can get it onto his lot.

"That is a red-hot vehicle for everyone right now," Ryan said. He said the HHR's competitive pricing — it starts below $16,000 — is one reason it's selling so well. GM lowered prices on most of its vehicles in January, another move that's fueling customer interest, analysts said.

GM's new lineup of sport utility vehicles — including the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade — also hit the market in February, which should give the automaker at least a short-term boost in sales, Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy said in a research note.

"We believe that (GM's) new SUVs will be the litmus test showing whether or not consumer tastes have shifted away from large trucks," Murphy said. "Sales of the refreshed Ford Explorer did not do well last fall, but its launch unfortunately coincided with two hurricanes and record gas prices."

Most analysts predict Toyota and Honda will again see their sales increase by double-digit percentages. Honda, in particular, could see sales of its redesigned Civic up by 50 percent or more, and its Ridgeline pickup also is a strong seller, Murphy said.

Ford Motor Co. are DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group are likely to see lower sales in February despite signs they have spent more on incentives, Burnham Securities analyst David Healy said. Chrysler introduced zero-percent financing on trucks and SUVs, while Ford is offering cash back and special financing deals.

Ford and Chrysler's cars are selling well, but they can't make up for the losses they're experiencing on trucks and SUVs. Edmunds.com, a vehicle research site, said it expects Ford sales to fall 8 percent in February, while Chrysler's could be down 6 percent.

U.S. automakers surprised analysts in January by boosting their results with an influx of sales to government and corporate fleets. Fleet sales accounted for nearly 40 percent of sales at GM and Ford in January and an estimated 30 percent at Chrysler, Healy said.

Automakers generally try to limit fleet sales, which are less lucrative and can hurt a vehicle's resale value by flooding the market. But analysts said it's difficult to predict whether fleet sales could be a major factor again in February.

"Following the boom in January we don't expect another upside surprise from fleet in February," Murphy said. "However, it is largely up to a company's discretion when to push the fleet channel, so it retail is particularly weak for the Big Three, another push is possible."

GM shares were down 60 cents to close at $19.99 on the New York Stock Exchange. Ford share were down 7 cents to close at $8.10, while DaimlerChrysler shares were up 9 cents to close at $55.86.

Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060225/ap_on_...wN5bnN1YmNhdA--

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''Honda, in particular, could see sales of its redesigned Civic up by 50 percent or more, and its Ridgeline pickup also is a strong seller, Murphy said.''

How could the Civic be up that much? Last February must of been a slow month for the Civic. The Ridgeline a strong seller? Since when does 4k-5k sales in a month constitute a strong seller.

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General Motors Corp. could be among the biggest beneficiaries after piquing customers' interest with advertising during the Super Bowl and the Olympics, Goldman Sachs auto analyst Robert Barry said in a note to investors. GM is seeing healthy sales of its new cars, including the Buick Lucerne and Chevrolet HHR, Barry said.

See what happens when you actually ADVERTISE GM?!?!?!?

Tim Ryan, a manager at Don Brown Chevrolet in St. Louis, said he is selling the HHR retro crossover as fast as he can get it onto his lot.

GREAT NEWS!!!!

Dan Neil---who?!?!?!? Does this mean either 1) Dan Neil is an idiot nd has no basis in fact, since each of the domestic cars he has chosen to 'dump on' have ALL sold well (500/Montego, HHR, G6) or 2) He just randomly chooses STRONG entires from Detroit based carmakers to pick on so that he can slow their momentum...

BOTH, I think, which equates Dan Neil to an IGNORANT, BIASED FOOL.

GM's new lineup of sport utility vehicles — including the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade — also hit the market in February, which should give the automaker at least a short-term boost in sales, Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy said in a research note.

LOL... Still that same pessimistic, defeatist attitude coming from the ALL KNOWING 'analysts' Of course, I'm sure it isn't easy when you're SUPPOSED to know what you're talking about, yet are forced to eat crow.

I know there isn't any way to tell whether or not the GMT900s will keep their momentum at this point, but still CREDIT is DUE to GM. Especially when the 'analysts' for whatever reason told them to do the polar opposite and in retrospect it looks as if that wasn't wise or intelligent advice... Maybe, just maybe there were ALTERNATIVE motives at play in the 'analysts' minds.

I calls 'em like I sees 'em.

"We believe that (GM's) new SUVs will be the litmus test showing whether or not consumer tastes have shifted away from large trucks," Murphy said. "Sales of the refreshed Ford Explorer did not do well last fall, but its launch unfortunately coincided with two hurricanes and record gas prices."

Sales of the redesigned Explorer also suffered because 1) it wasn't different enough, 2) The media had already successfully ruined the Explorers image, 3) Because of YET ANOTHER pleathora of BAD reviews and 4) Because buyers shopping for an Explorer sized vehicle usually aren't in the same income bracket as Tahoe buyers, hence why the gas prices weigh more on their decisions.

Most analysts predict Toyota and Honda will again see their sales increase by double-digit percentages. Honda, in particular, could see sales of its redesigned Civic up by 50 percent or more, and its Ridgeline pickup also is a strong seller, Murphy said.

OF COURSE!!!!! hell, after that GIGANTIC media slurping, Honda BETTER have sales increases. And just to think, all this past year Honda had been LOSING ground... Coincidence? Hell no.

Ford Motor Co. are DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group are likely to see lower sales in February despite signs they have spent more on incentives, Burnham Securities analyst David Healy said. Chrysler introduced zero-percent financing on trucks and SUVs, while Ford is offering cash back and special financing deals.

That sucks.... Hopefully Chrysler isn't losing steam. But if they are, I'm sure all the new small utes they have coming will help. I thought Ford would do well, especially on the back of the success of the Fusion/Milan/MKZ.

***Hopefully, the buyers base for the big three hasn't been NARROWED (By the media) so much tht they are only cannabalizing each others sales now.***

Ford and Chrysler's cars are selling well, but they can't make up for the losses they're experiencing on trucks and SUVs. Edmunds.com, a vehicle research site, said it expects Ford sales to fall 8 percent in February, while Chrysler's could be down 6 percent.

Oh, okay... (Guess I should've read ahead a bit) Chrysler doesn't worry me, they have a WHOLE lot of new stuff coming. Ford on the other hand, worries me. The damage has been done there--the job is done; hence why the negativity is NOW focused at GM

U.S. automakers surprised analysts in January by boosting their results with an influx of sales to government and corporate fleets. Fleet sales accounted for nearly 40 percent of sales at GM and Ford in January and an estimated 30 percent at Chrysler, Healy said.

Not good.

Automakers generally try to limit fleet sales, which are less lucrative and can hurt a vehicle's resale value by flooding the market. But analysts said it's difficult to predict whether fleet sales could be a major factor again in February.

Probably.... Remember; nobody buys domestic anymore... That's so un-cool...

GM shares were down 60 cents to close at $19.99 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Oh wow! We're back down to sub-20 now... I guess all those negative editorials from January took hold. (You know, the one's I TOLD you all would surface after the positive sales performance--SEE: Janury sales thread)

Ford share were down 7 cents to close at $8.10,

Not a surprise, the press all but finished them off a year or two back.

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The Ridgeline a strong seller? Since when does 4k-5k sales in a month constitute a strong seller.

Since the media is making the big PUSH to increase it's sales. ***Positive mention here, positive mention there, hide the production cuts, give it a couple of awards...PLANT the seed***

The Lucerne is an AWESOME car, no matter WHAT you're told. If I were in the market for a sedan, Lucerne is probably the one I would buy from GM.

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