GM Will Lead Week's Parade of Auto Industry Numbers

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- A busy reporting week for the auto industry is expected to show continuing strong U.S. sales, contradicting the signs of a slowing economy as well as continuing weakness in Europe.

On Tuesday, Chrysler will report second-quarter results. On Wednesday, automakers will report monthly U.S. sales. On Thursday, GM ( GM) will report second-quarter results.

"Of course I'm worried about Europe," said S&P Capital IQ analyst Efraim Levy. "But the U.S. remains a bright spot, with healthy demand and a positive outlook for the year and for 2013, and GM will be fine."

Ford ( F), the first of the Detroit Three to issue a second-quarter report, beat estimates but was hampered by poor results in Europe. For the week ending July 27, its shares fell 1% to close at $9, while GM shares rose 3% to $19.69. Toyota ( TM)shares rose 2% to close at $76.08, while Honda ( HMC) gained 4% to $32.38.

Levy noted that Ford has more exposure to Europe than GM does. Europe accounts for about a quarter of Ford's revenue and about 17%, or one-sixth, of GM's revenue. "Ford has a greater exposure to Europe and Europe is the weakest area," he said.

As for Toyota and Honda, they are expected to be the biggest beneficiaries of rising U.S. auto sales in July, according to TrueCar.com, which projects that July 2012 light vehicle sales will be the best July sales since 2007, totaling 1,171,201, up 10.6% from the same month a year earlier.

"The pace of new vehicle sales remained steady in July despite the mixed economic news, helped by the compelling selection of vehicles and highly optimized incentive programs, " said TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak, in a prepared statement. "The Japanese Big 3, as well as Chrysler, will all be posting double-digit gains while Ford and GM will essentially be flat."

Japanese manufacturers continue to benefit from favorable comparisons with year-ago results diminished by production shortfalls. "One look at the Toyota and Honda sales today will make you think (that) nothing ever happened last year," Toprak said. TrueCar projected gains of 45% for Honda, 22% for Toyota, 18% for Chrysler and 13% for Nissan, with GM flat and Ford down 1.1%.

TrueCar projected the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate in July will be 14.1 million, with retail sales up 3%. Edmunds.com said GM sales will be flat with Ford down 2.5% as US automakers suffer the consequences of seasonally lower July fleet sales. "Because domestic automakers tend to have a higher percentage of fleet sales, it's no surprise that their market shares will all take a hit this month," said Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell, in a prepared statement.

Caldwell said Chrysler's continuing high U.S. sales gains are slowing as comparisons become more difficult.

"Even though Chrysler's success in the last 18 months is commendable, it isn't strong enough in the long-term to carry its parent company Fiat, which is running into some real problems with the European economic crisis," she said.

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

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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