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GM Sales Slipping in August

Two weeks of sales may not be a meaningful indicator, but a decline right after an IPO filing is ill-timed.
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) -- Vehicle sales trends in the first half of August show increases over July for most automakers, but not

General Motors.

GM sales were down between 6% and 7% compared with the previous month, according to

. Sales by most other manufacturers were up, with


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(HMC) - Get Honda Motor Company Ltd. Report





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all up 7% to 8%, according to the data.

At the remaining manufacturers, sales were steady from July to early August, except for


, which is up about 22%, and


, which like GM, is down 6% to 7%.

While first-half-of-the-month sales are not necessarily a meaningful indicator, a sales decline is not the best possible news on the first day after a company files its IPO registration.

analyst Ivan Drury said the decline at GM reflects the company's continued reliance on pickup truck sales, which

surged in July. In August, he said, "the economy hasn't been doing so well, and people have been picking up on the fact of gasoline prices being a little high, which is almost a reminder that you might want to pick (a vehicle) that is a little bit more efficient."

In July, Ford said pickup sales rose 27.4%, while overall sales rose 3.3%, while at GM, Silverado pickup sales rose 25.5%, while overall sales rose 5.4%.

While pickup truck sales are significant at Ford, as well as at GM, Ford retained momentum in August because "it also has good messaging and some small cars coming out and positive media attention," Drury said. In particular, he noted that the Ford Fiesta is a big success that "connects with young people." As for BMW, Drury said the company is using aggressive lease pricing to clear out some older models.

If current trends for the month continue and if fleet sales are relatively steady as a percentage of the total,

said, then August industry sales will total about 1.03 million for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 11.8 million units.

On his blog,

CEO Jeremy Anwyl said overall sales are up about 4% so far August, and the month could end up topping March as the best sales month of the year. But a reduction in aggressive pricing could slow sales, he said.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.