- A young blonde female stock broker
- I was in a car dealership a while
- A woman answered the knock
- What will they call
Auto Industry Key Players
General Motors - Produces Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Cadillac, among others.
Chrysler - Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.
Ford Motor Co - Ford, Lincoln and Volvo.
Two of the largest foreign car manufacturers are:
Toyota Motor Co
Honda Motor Co
Fleet Sales: Traditionally, these are high-volume sales designated to come from large companies and government agencies. These sales are almost always at discount prices. In the past several years, auto makers have been extending fleet sales to small businesses and other associations.
Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of Sales (SAAR): Most auto makers experience increased sales during the second quarter (April to June), and sales tend to be sluggish between November and January. For this reason, it is important to compare sales figures to the same period of the previous year. The adjustment factors are released each year by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The sales reports (discussed above) are released monthly. Most automakers try to make dealerships hold 60 days worth of inventory on their lots. Watch out if sales inventory climbs significantly above 60 days worth. Sales fluctuate month-to-month, but you shouldn't see sustained periods of high inventory.
Automobiles depend heavily on consumer trends and tastes. While car companies do sell a large proportion of vehicles to businesses and car rental companies (fleet sales), consumer sales is the largest source of revenue. For this reason, taking consumer and business confidence into account should be a higher priority than considering the regular factors like earnings growth and debt load. (For more about the Consumer Confidence Survey, see Economic Indicators: Consumer Confidence Index.)
Another caveat of analyzing an automaker is taking a look at whether a company is planning makeovers or complete redesigns. Every year, car companies update their cars. This is a part of normal operations, but there can be a problem when a company decides to significantly change the design of a car. These changes can cause massive delays and glitches, which result in increased costs and slower revenue growth. While a new design may pay off significantly in the long run, it's always a risky proposition.
For parts suppliers, the life span of an automobile is very important. The longer a car stays operational, the greater the need for replacement parts. On the other hand, new parts are lasting longer, which is great for consumers, but is not such good news for parts makers. When, for example, most car makers moved from using rolled steel to stainless steel, the change extended the life of parts by several years.
A significant portion of an automaker's revenue comes from the services it offers with the new vehicle. Offering lower financial rates than financial institutions, the car company makes a profit on financing. Extended warranties also factor into the bottom line. (To read more about this, see Extended Warranties: Should You Take The Bait?)
Greater emphasis on leasing has also helped increase revenues. The advantage of leasing is that it eases consumer fears about resale value, and it makes the car sound more affordable. From a maker's perspective, leasing is a great way to hide the true price of the vehicle through financing costs. Car companies, then, are able to push more cars through. Unfortunately, profiting on leasing is not as easy as it sounds. Leasing requires the automakers to accurately judge the value of their vehicles at the end of the lease, otherwise they may actually lose money. If you think about it, the automaker will lose money on the lease if they give the car a high salvage value. A car with a low salvage value at the end of the lease will simply be bought by the consumer and flipped for a profit.