DETROIT – General Motors Corp. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F), Detroit's downhill racers, will post another big drop in their U.S. sales when they report November results next week, industry analysts said on Wednesday.
They said GM and Ford, which both saw their sales drop 23 percent in October compared with the same month a year ago, were likely to report November sales declines of as much as 15 percent.
The sales projections are adjusted for one more selling day in November this year and exclude the Detroit automakers' foreign brands.
By contrast, and despite weak industrywide results, Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to report a double-digit increase in sales, the analysts said in notes to clients.
They said Chrysler will also report a decline in sales, ending 19 consecutive months of year-over-year gains at the U.S. arm of Germany's DaimlerChrysler (DCX).
Like its crosstown rivals, Chrysler is hurting from what Merrill Lynch analyst John Casesa described as an "inhospitable" market for big trucks and sport utility vehicles.
The recent drop in U.S. gasoline prices apparently has not done much to reverse a shift in consumer sentiment away from fuel-thirsty SUVs and pickups.
The domestic automakers all sweetened their consumer incentives earlier this month, in a fresh bid to lure shoppers into their dealerships. But Casesa said November got off to "an excruciatingly slow start" and predicted that Detroit's long-running price war, which has eroded industry profits, will heat up again in the coming weeks.
"We expect the promotional environment to intensify between now and year-end," he said.
Chrysler is still expected to gain U.S. market share this year and will close 2005 with a share of about 13.3 percent, up from 12.7 percent at the end of 2004, according to Burnham Securities analyst David Healy.
GM and Ford have been bleeding share to rivals led by Toyota, however, and have seen the wheels fall off of their North American auto business as they struggle with high labor and health-care costs and problems attracting consumers.
In October, according to data compiled by Reuters, Toyota had a 15.1 percent share of the U.S. light vehicle market. That was better than the 14.4 percent monthly share at Chrysler and compared with 16.1 percent at Ford and 22 percent at GM.
Healy said he sees GM's ending the year with a market share of about 25.8 percent, down from 27.2 percent in 2004, while Ford will close out 2005 with a U.S. share of 18.3 percent, down from 19.3 percent in 2004.
Toyota, Japan's largest automaker, grabbed more U.S. retail market share than Ford in early November and was less than one share point behind GM, according to a report last week from J.D. Power and Associates.
Vehicle sales across the industry slumped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14.7 million units in October, their slowest pace in seven years. November U.S. sales -- which automakers will report on December 1 -- are seen coming in at a rate of about 15.7 million, down from 16.6 million in the same month last year.