Ford, Nissan January Sales Beat Estimates on Light Truck Demand – Bloomberg

Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. sales beat estimates in January, while General Motors Co. deliveries fell by more than projected, as analysts predict the U.S. auto market may have cooled following a blistering pace in December.

Deliveries of cars and light trucks slipped 0.7 percent for Ford and climbed 6.2 percent for Nissan, beating analyst projections for declines. The F-Series pickup line paced Ford, while sales of Nissan’s Rogue crossovers surged to a January record. GM deliveries fell 3.8 percent, wider than the 2.4 percent decline analysts estimated.

“Exceptionally strong sales to close out 2016 led to a slow start in January, but additional incentives towards the end of the month helped pick up the slack,” said Eric Lyman, chief industry analyst for ALG, which sets residual values for leased vehicles.

The U.S. economy remains healthy, with companies adding workers and confidence still high despite slipping from December. Consumers will count on President Donald Trump and Congress to deliver on promises to boost employment and growth, which would contribute to the auto market’s prospects for an unprecedented eighth straight year of expansion.

Auto sales probably slowed in January to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of about 17.3 million vehicles, according to the average of 11 analyst estimates, from 17.9 million a year earlier. The pace was 18.4 million in December, the best in more than a decade.

GM said the light vehicle sales rate may have been 17.6 million in January in its e-mailed statement.

VW Seen Gaining

The biggest gainer among major automakers will probably be Volkswagen AG, which is rebounding amid a buyback program involving its diesel models. Combined sales of the VW and Audi brands may rise 20 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Honda Motor Co. was the only other large automaker projected to report an increase, with analysts estimating a gain of 4 percent.

Sales may fall about 14 percent for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, according to analysts estimates, reflecting the end of sedan production at two U.S. plants.

“It’s tricky to use January as a bellwether for how auto sales will trend for the year,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com. “It’s the lowest volume month and only accounts for 6 percent of annual sales on average.”

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