Ford leads strong March car sales
Early surveys show a seasonally adjusted sales rate of 13.2 million cars for the industry, the highest since August.
By Ted Reed, TheStreet
March is shaping up to be an unusually strong month for car sales, with catalysts including Toyota (TM) incentives and nice weather following a stormy February.
According to Edmonds.com, March sales are on pace to produce seasonally an adjusted annual sales rate for the industry of 13.2 million, the highest since the 13.7 million cars sold in August, reflecting buying inspired by the cash for clunkers program.
As of March 10, Ford (F) had a 19.2% share of the market, while General Motors had 17.8% of the market and Toyota had 15.5%, according to Truecar.com. Ford had a 17.6% share in February and a 14.6% share in March 2009.
Ford analyst George Pipas says that while it is too early to talk about the month's sales rate and market-share numbers, the trends are not surprising.
"When all of the February results were tabulated, much of the conversation was that this terrible winter weather had stalled auto sales -- some say it stalled home sales as well -- and another comment was that Toyota buyers were sitting on the sidelines," he says."Now, the worst of the winter weather appears to be behind us, and if Toyota buyers were on the sidelines, what better way to get them off than 0% financing for 60 months?"
Pipas cautioned against drawing firm conclusions about the economy from recent monthly sales figures, given the influence of exogenous events. December was colored by incentives and the expiration of the sales tax benefit; January sales fell as payback for December, and February included a partial shutdown by Toyota as well as bad weather. "We have not had a clean month for some time, and I don't think March will give us a clean reading either," he says.
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