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TheStreet Open House

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

All of that said, GM has some specific problems right now. 

In February, it announced that it would recall 1.6 million vehicles over the now infamous ignition switch issue. 

In March, the U.S. Attorney General announced that the launch of a criminal investigation into the company's handling of the recall. The Justice Department recently settled with Toyota Motors (TM) in a similar case for a whopping $1.2 billion

GM also announced a 1.55 million vehicle recall in March, with 1.2 million vehicles being recalled over air bag issues. The company also announced that it would take a $300 million charge in the first quarter due to the recalls. 

Although these events may seem irrelevant to monthly auto sales, this is not the case. First, investors must ask themselves, how much have these recalls affected sales for General Motors?

In other words, did customers opt for a Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, or other ride because of these issues? Has the negative press coverage weighed on customers' decision-making?

If it has not, and sales were indeed better than expected for General Motors, will GM's stock end its recent slump? 

The stock is down 8.5% since March 10 and 15.5% year to date. Compare that to Toyota, which is down 8.5% year to date, and Ford, which is down 1% year to date. It's obvious that GM is in the gutter. 

But it deserves to be in the gutter right now! After two large recalls and a criminal investigation, I wouldn't expect shares to trade well. The question now remains, will sales be enough to help turn the stock around, even if only for the short term? 

On Wednesday, Kelley Blue Book suggested that monthly auto sales for March would rise by 2%, totaling 1.48 million vehicles. That would bring the SAAR up to 15.7 million vehicles. Specifically, the company forecasts GM to grow sales by 0.4%, Ford to grow sales 1% and Chrysler to grow sales 7.2% -- the highest forecast for an automaker this month.  

TheStreet's Ted Reed writes, Toyota "took an unusual step" by announcing that auto sales were good so far through March.

My rough estimates are that a healthy beat in a particular automaker's number could boost its stocks 3%-5%, while a slight beat might lift it 1%-3%. An in-line result or a slight miss would probably result in the stock making mild gains of up to 1% or dropping about 1%.

At the time of publication, Kenwell owned shares of Ford. 

-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

Bret Kenwell currently writes, blogs and also contributes to Robert Weinstein's Weekly Options Newsletter. Focuses on short-to-intermediate-term trading opportunities that can be exposed via options. He prefers to use debit trades on momentum setups and credit trades on support/resistance setups. He also focuses on building long-term wealth by searching for consistent, quality dividend paying companies and long-term growth companies. He considers himself the surfer, not the wave, in relation to the market and himself. He has no allegiance to either the bull side or the bear side.
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