GM, Ford Post Sales Gains Over Year-Ago


General Motors, two weeks off its historic initial public offering, and Ford reported strong gains in year-over-year sales, offering hope that the U.S. auto industry is regaining its footing after years of losses.

Sales of GM (NYSE:GM) cars and trucks rose 11% last month from a year earlier, the company said.

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GM reported it sold almost 169,000 vehicles in November compared with 151,000 in the same month last year. Sales of its four brands -- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac -- rose 21% compared with the same brands last November. GM shed four money-losing brands -- Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab -- as part of its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring.

"Each brand came to the party in November," said Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations, in a statement.

GM said its four core brands were on track to gain market share for the year. Sales of GM's Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave sister crossovers rose a combined 38% from a year earlier, the company said.

The new Chevy Cruze helped punch car sales up 17% in November from a year earlier, GM said.

It’s good news for the company just two weeks after its historic initial public offering. The shares rose 40 cents, or 1.1%, to $34.60 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The IPO came less than 2 years after a massive government bailout that rescued the company from possible liquidation. The stock is up nearly 5% from its IPO price of $33.

Also Wednesday, Ford (NYSE:F) reported a 24% jump in November U.S. vehicle sales, led by continued gains in truck sales.

The company, the only of the Big Three U.S. auto makers not to have filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, has been outperforming peers the past two years, returning to No. 2 saleswise domestically behind GM.

Ford reported November sales of 147,338, compared with 118,536 a year earlier but 6.7% lower than October. The namesake brand led the way with 27% growth, and sales also jumped 19% for Lincoln, offsetting a 12% decline for soon-to-be phased-out Mercury.

Companywide, truck sales increased 34%, while sport-utility vehicles grew 13% and cars climbed 25%.

In another positive sign for the industry, Ford also said it plans to build 635,000 vehicles in the first quarter, up 11% from the year-earlier period and more than the production plan of 590,000 vehicles this quarter.

The company's shares were up 2.3% to $16.31 in recent trading amid a broad market rally. The stock has surged 63% this year as sales have rebounded.

Industry analysts had predicted that U.S. sales rose over last November as consumers gained confidence and showroom traffic increased. They say the U.S. auto market seems to have stabilized after more than two years of turmoil.

Automakers are expected to report sales at slightly above a 12 million annualized rate for light vehicles, driven by discounting aimed to give a boost to long-stagnant consumer demand.

All automakers report sales figures on Wednesday.