US March new auto sales fall short of market expectations

Ford Motor down 7.5 percent from March 2016 in overall sales, down 24 percent in vehicle sales but did enjoy a 10 percent sales jump in its top-selling F-Series pickup.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, photo, Ford sales consultant Yanaisis Milian removes the dealer tag on a sold 2017 Ford Explorer at an auto dealership in Hialeah, Fla.

Ford sold 236,250 vehicles in March, a 7% percent decline compared with the same month a year ago. But much of that decline was due to a sharp drop in deliveries to rental fleets (from an exceptionally high level a year ago).

Sales for the month fell 1.6 percent to just over 1.55 million vehicles, surprising analysts who expected a small increase. Vehicle retail sales for the Chevrolet brand slipped 11 percent, though sales of the Chevy Cruze jumped 88 percent compared to a year ago.

One bright spot in the monthly numbers was Ford's truck line. With Jeep's performance down by 11 percent-thanks to plummeting interest in the outgoing Patriot and Compass and people looking ahead to the next Wrangler-even an incredibly strong month by Dodge and a 100 percent increase in Journey sales couldn't keep the whole team in the black.

The company's average transaction pricing rose $1,800 in March. Ford said retail sales dipped 2%, while lower-margin fleet sales tumbled 17%. Barclays PLC reaffirmed a "neutral" rating on shares of General Motors Company in a report on Friday, February 3rd. Lincoln sales are up nearly 9%, putting it on pace to record a fourth consecutive year of annual gains - something Lincoln hasn't done in at least two decades. The gains were primarily driven by crossovers, which were up 21 percent.

That is putting pressure on automakers to adjust production and re-calibrate incentives, making this a good time for consumers to shop, especially if they are going to buy a auto. The stock was sold at an average price of $36.12, for a total transaction of $91,744.80.

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The number of shares now held by investors is 1.5 Billion. Norges Bank bought a new stake in shares of Ford Motor Company during the fourth quarter valued at about $277,396,000.

That could mean lower sales, production cuts and a drag on the economy in a worst-case scenario, she said. The rate was 16.7 million a year earlier.

The average sales incentive topped $3,750 in March, or 10.3% of the sticker price, according to research firm J.D. Power. So far in 2017, it has delivered a grand total of five of the hand-built exotics.

Several other equities analysts have also recently commented on F. TheStreet raised shares of Ford Motor Company from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, January 5th. Truck sales gained more than 12 percent from the previous year with 61,975 vehicles moving during the month - a record for March.

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Dealers concede their inventories are on the rise, but Mark Scarpelli, owner of Chevrolet, Kia and Fiat Chrysler dealers north of Chicago, said he considers it a normal part of the business cycle. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 15,755 shares in the company, valued at $557,411.90. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

  • Rita Burton