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Ford, GM, Toyota Shares Could Rev on Auto Sales Report

Stocks in this article: GMFTM

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- General Motors (GM), Ford (F), Toyota (TM) shares could get a boost if March auto sales due out next Tuesday come in better than expected. 

The sales number should exceed analysts' expectations -- welcome relief for investors in automakers' shares, which haven't fared so well this month.

In February, U.S. auto sales showed a very slight year-over-year decline, but overall they were still better predicted.

General Motors posted a 1% decline in sales for the month, beating analysts' expectations for a 6% drop. Ford posted a 6% drop in sales results, slightly ahead of what analysts were expecting. 

In Ford's announcement about its February sales, John Felice, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales, and service at Ford, said, "Sales surged in the final week, providing us momentum after a slow start to the month." 

This tells me two things, the most obvious being that March started off with solid momentum. The second, more subtle, thing is that demand for new vehicles continues to build, as weather has been holding back purchases. 

February's auto sales barely declined year-over-year despite poor weather, and when the weather improved toward the end of the month, sales kicked up.

People want to buy new cars. In fact, that's exactly what Paul Nadjarian, CEO of Mojo Motors, told me a few weeks ago when I talked to him on the phone. Initially, I was discussing his company with him. Later, we broadened our discussion to the auto industry in general. 

Nadjarian, who's been in the industry for two decades (and spent plenty of time at Ford), was optimistic on auto sales in 2014. He added that U.S. auto sales likely will surpass the 16 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) this year. 

Furthermore, he said that pent-up demand existed for new cars. He also said that the fierce winter weather would actually help auto sales once the weather improves, because the bad weather either damaged or made existing cars less reliable.

In sum, I think this pent-up demand should lead to a strong March sales number.

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