GM's U.S. Sales Decline Is Said to Be in Line With Estimates

(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co.’s U.S. sales fell 2.5 percent to 3 percent in April, the first month that the company has sat out public reporting of monthly data, according to people familiar with the matter.

The result, shared by people who asked not to be identified because the information is private, is in line with analysts’ average estimate for a 2.9 percent decline. GM announced a month ago that it would switch to releasing U.S. sales on a quarterly basis.

GM’s drop was one of the better showings among the automakers in the U.S. It was a strong showing by the Detroit-based company because it also spent less on rebates and promotions in April, and there were two fewer days for dealers to sell cars than a year ago. GM has been trying to get better pricing for its vehicles and been prioritizing more profitable retail sales over market-share gains.

“They really pulled back on incentives,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with researcher Autotrader. “They cut incentives by thousands of dollars on some models.”

Automakers probably sold cars and light trucks at a rate in April that was stable compared with a year ago and in early 2018. The lone exception was Nissan Motor Co., which reported that its deliveries plummeted 28 percent. Only three nameplates across the Nissan and Infiniti brands posted gains.

The month was going to be a tough comparison due to a quirk of the calendar. April had two fewer selling days -- which excludes Sundays and holidays -- than a year earlier. So while analysts were expecting all major carmakers to post declining deliveries, they were projecting an annualized sales rate of about 17 million, in line with the pace set a year ago and the industry’s showing in the first quarter.

Automakers probably sold vehicles at an annualized rate of about 16.9 million vehicles in the month, according to estimates by analysts at RBC Capital Markets and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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