GM Shares Soar on Sales Numbers

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- GM ( GM) shares reached their post-bankruptcy high after the company reported strong December sales figures.

GM said its December sales rose 7.5%, slightly ahead of Ford's ( F) 6.7% increase. Ford sales growth was limited by a 23% decline at Lincoln and a 10.5% decline at Mercury. Nevertheless, December was the best month of the year for both companies, and both forecast continued growth in the current year.
Chevy Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze sales soared in December.

GM shares closed Tuesday at $37.90, up 84 cents, close to company's post-bankruptcy high of $38. Ford shares closed at $17.38, up 13 cents. GM's light vehicle sales and pricing commentary, released this morning, are likely strong enough to push analysts to raise their Q410 estimates from the current consensus of $0.49," wrote ConvergEx Group strategist Nicolas Colas, in a report following the company's sales conference call.

Colas, who estimates fourth-quarter earnings of 59 cents, said an outstanding 15-cent estimate is likely to be increased. He also said that December sales figures indicate that "the U.S. light vehicle cycle is working its way higher, a positive for GM and a useful macro data point for all who watch the domestic economy."

GM had some obvious winners. The newly-introduced Chevrolet Cruze (above) sold 10,865 units. The Volt sold 326 units in its first sales month. Equinox sales rose 86% to 22,764. Buick sales rose 40% as the new Regal sold 3,059 units. And the Camaro sold 5,614 units, down 26% but enough to ensure that it would finish ahead of the Ford Mustang in the muscle car segment.

For the full year, Chevy sold 81,299 Camaros while Ford sold 73,716 Mustangs. "The two models have been battling for sports-car sales supremacy since the redesigned Camaro returned to the market in 2009 after a seven-year hiatus," according to Bloomberg News, which noted that the Mustang had been the U.S. leader since 1986, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank.

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

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