Morning Word: $F Eating $GM’s Lunch

by Enis October 2, 2013 9:16 am • Commentary

Monthly auto sales figures were released yesterday, and the two long-time stalwarts in the American car market went in totally opposite directions.  Monthly sales figures vs. September 2012:

  • Ford:  +5.8%
  • Chrysler:  +0.7%
  • GM:  -11%

September 2013 sales were expected to be weaker for GM given 2 fewer selling days than in September 2012 (due to Labor Day weekend), but GM could be losing overall share with numbers like that.  Ford’s sales were driven by its Fusion sedan (up 62%) and Fiesta subcompact (up 29%), while GM’s marquee brand, Chevrolet, saw a sales decline of 14.7%.

The top international brand, Toyota, was also a bit weaker than expected.  The current state of affairs among the top 3 brands in the U.S. (F, GM, Toyota) is one where F is clearly the leader, while GM has been slipping, with TM more stable.  Lo and behold, the performance of the 3 stocks over the last year reflects that outlook as well:

1 year percentage performance (GM in red, TM in green, F in orange), Courtesy of Bloomberg
1 year performance, 100 normalized base (GM in red, TM in green, F in orange), Courtesy of Bloomberg

Ford has been the clear winner, up 75% over the last year.  GM has been the laggard, though its 51% return over the last year is not too shabby either.  We have our eye on the GM trade that Dan put on last month, with the stock closing yesterday right at the 50 day moving average for the second straight day.  The stock is still a decent value IF earnings growth plays out like expected, but yesterday’s weak numbers might have some investors taking a hard look at that premise given automakers’ earnings volatility.