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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Silver Lining For Detroit (TM)(HMC)(F)(GM)(DCX)

Most of the numbers were within the range that was expected. DaimlerChrysler sales dropped 1.6% to 180,184. Mercedes sales rose, but sales at the Chrysler unit were off 3%. There were 25 sales days in October 2006 compared to 26 days in 2005. Daimler's stock rose about 2% to just above $58.

Ford's sales rose 8% to 285,195, but October of last year was the first month after employee pricing was offered to build summer 2005 sales. So, the period in 2005 was abnormally weak. The good news for Ford this October is that car sales were up 22%, but sales of the company's more profitable SUVs and pick-ups were only up 1% to 133,036. Sales of the company's flagship, the F-series pick-up were up only 3%. Sales at Ford did tighten inventory at dealers, which may mean the company will not have to make more production cuts for early 2007. Ford's stock had a gain of about 2% to $8.47 after the figures were released.

GM sold 301,317 cars and trucks in October. GM's total rose 22% from the same month a year ago. The company did not change its North American production forecast for Q4, which it cut last month. Reaction to the news was muted at GM's shares traded down about 1.4% at $34.43.

Among the imports, Nissan's sales rose almost 4% to 75,095. Truck sales were up over 8% to 36,765. Sales for BMW dropped almost 5% to 24,464. Honda's sales were down .2% to 110,624.

And, Detroit got a bit of a relief as Toyota sales rose only 9.2% to 189,011. Overall results were hurt because the company's luxury division, Lexus, only increased sales by 2.9% to 24,006.

Without the big Japanese car companies making impressive gains, Detroit had a good month.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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