NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Since mid-May, shares of Ford ( F) have gained some strong upward momentum on heavier-than-usual volume.
It appeared as though investors were expecting a solid sales number from the automaker when the monthly figure was released on June 3. From the close on Friday, May 24, shares ran higher by nearly 10% over the next five trading sessions. While traders may have "sold the news," long-term investors surely were pleased. Ford said sales in May were up 14% from a year before. Although rival General Motors ( GM) did see a 40% jump in its Cadillac sales, GM was able to increase total U.S. sales by only 3.1% when compared to last year. Nissan ( NSANY) was the biggest winner, with a jump of 24%, while Toyota ( TM) and Honda ( HMC) both posted positive figures: 2.5% and 4.5%, respectively. So what is all of this saying? Consumers are spending, and they are confident that they will continue get paid. They seem optimistic about their personal finances, their investments (with the S&P 500 up roughly 15% year to date) and their job security. But there's one shining light that may provide the hidden answer to the boost in auto sales: pickup trucks.
On May 2, it was announced that Ford would be adding a third shift to one of its assembly lines for the F-Series truck. This is great news for Ford, because the F-Series has been the top-selling vehicle in the country for 31 consecutive years. The auto giant didn't disappoint investors when it was announced that it sold more than 71,000 of the trucks for the month of May. This represents a 30% jump in year-over-year sales and brings the year-to-date total to nearly 300,000 units, which by itself represents a 22% jump compared to last year's YTD sales figures.