Honda Sees Surprise U.S. Sales Gain

Old 10-30-2011, 07:49 PM
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Default Honda Sees Surprise U.S. Sales Gain

Honda Motor Co. said its U.S. sales are growing in October, defying analysts’ projections. That may drive industrywide deliveries to exceed the average outlook, already anticipated as the best in eight months.

Honda has lost about 200,000 planned deliveries since the March tsunami, said John Mendel, who leads the company’s U.S. sales efforts. With plants running overtime, he expects to make up half of them before the year is over, starting this month with the company’s first gain since April. That contrasts with an average 2.5 percent decline estimated by five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Higher output from Honda and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) combined with growing demand for full-size trucks by Ford Motor Co. (F) and General Motors Co. (GM) probably accelerated the seasonally adjusted annual rate to 13.3 million sales, the average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That would be the fastest pace since February. The rate dipped below 12 million in May and June.

“Everything we have inventory of is doing well,” Mendel said, singling out the lack of Fit subcompacts. Dealers took orders for more than 50,000 Hondas and almost 6,000 Acuras from mid-June through August, locking in buyers with lease deals and low-interest loans. Those customers provide a fourth-quarter “tailwind,” he said. “The dealers are feeling pretty good.”

While Honda beating expectations may indicate the industry is recovering faster than the analysts’ consensus, Mendel said he doubts that October’s pace exceeded February’s 13.3 million.

“I don’t know that it will be the best month of the year,” he said in an interview last week in Carlsbad, California. “I wouldn’t say it’s a robust market. We’re benefiting quite frankly from pent-up demand.”

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