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General Motors Company (GM)

U.S. Sales Conference Call

March 1, 2013 11:00 am ET


Jim Cain - Manager, Financial Communications at General Motors

Kurt McNeil - U.S. Vice President of Sales Operations

Don Johnson - Vice President of Chevrolet Sales and Service

Chase Hawkins - Vice President of Cadillac Sales and Service

Ed Peper - Vice President of Fleet And Commercial Sales

Brian Sweeney - Vice President of Buick, GMC Sales and Service

Mustafa Mohatarem - Chief Economist

Alan Batey - Vice President of U.S. Sales and Service


John Murphy - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Vijay Chugh - Morgan Stanley

Brian Johnson - Barclays

Joe Spak - RBC Capital Markets

Rob Maher - Credit Suisse

Patrick Archambault - Goldman Sachs

Itay Michaeli - Citigroup

Dan Gallatin - Deutsche Bank

Tom Krisher - Associated Press

Ben Klayman - Reuters

Jeff Bennett - The Wall Street Journal

Melissa Burden - The Detroit News

Mike Colias - Automotive News



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the General Motors Company February 2013 U.S. Sales Conference Call. During the presentation all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded, Friday, March 1, 2013. Your speakers for today are Mr. Tim Cain and Mr. Kurt McNeil.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Jim Cain, GM Communications. Please go ahead, sir.

Jim Cain

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to the GM February sales conference call. Hope you received our press release and associated charts. As always, leading today's discussion is Kurt McNeil, and we have leaders from across GM's four brands for the Q&A session. I will just remind everybody as always before we begin that our discussion is covered by our forward-looking statements disclosure which you can read in our press release..

With that, it's my pleasure to introduce Kurt McNeil, Vice President of U S Sales Operations.

Kurt McNeil

Thank you, Jim. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us. As we always do, we will use our time together to cover the highlights of GM's performance during the past month. We will also give you our perspective on the industry and then we will take your questions.

Clearly, 2013 is off to a very good start for both General Motors and the industry as a whole. We had our best February since 2008. An a retail basis, this month was our best February since 2007 for Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick. It now appears likely that the light vehicle annual selling rate was in the 15.5 million unit range in February. We have not seen a February this strong 2008 when the light vehicle start was 15.6 million but the difference between then and now is that the escalator is heading up and not down.

In fact, February was the industry's fourth consecutive month above 15 million units and the trend is consistent with our full-year forecast of 15 million to 15.5 million units. That’s not to say there aren’t any fiscal and structural headwinds but, net net, vehicle buying fundamentals are healthy as the selling rate attests.

For example, the recovery in home prices is building customer confidence, credit is available and affordable, and consumers appear to be taking higher payroll taxes in stride at least when it comes to replacing older vehicles. A significant tailwind for our industry is new home construction, which is creating jobs and fueling the demand for pickups.

In fact the full-size pickup share of the retail industry has now been above 11% for seven consecutive months. As we walk through our results you will see that GM really benefited from these trends. For example we were up 7% in total, with retail and fleet both up 7%. All four of our brands had higher year-over-year sales and we expect to finish the month with retail market share of more than 17%. This is better than January's strong performance and it is well above our 2012 calendar year retail share of 15.8%. This is obviously a very good result but needless to say we remain humble and hungry.

Now looking at sales by brand. Cadillac was up 20% on the strength of the new ATS and XTS, Buick was up 15% driven by the Verano, the Enclave and the all-new Encore. At GMC, the brand was up 10% in total. We saw double-digit sales gains for four of GMC's nameplates. The Sierra was up 25%, the Yukon XL was up 27% and both the Yukon and the Terrain were up 21%. The Terrain actually had its best February ever and its second best month of all time.

Inside of these numbers you can see the positive impact new cars and crossovers are having at Cadillac and Buick GMC. At Buick, the redesigned Enclave had its best February sales ever with deliveries up 26%. The Verano had another solid month with sales exceeding 4,000 units. The all-new Encore small crossover is building momentum with sales of almost 1,500 units in its second month in the marketplace.

At Cadillac, XTS deliveries exceeded 2,000 units, Conquest sales are exceeding our expectations with Jaguar SJ and Lincoln MKS the top competitive trade-ins. The ATF meanwhile had its strongest sales month since launch. It was Cadillac's best-selling vehicle. More than three quarters of ATF buyers are new to Cadillac. Nearly 60% are new to General Motors and our top trade-ins include the BMW 3 series and the Lincoln MKZ.

Over Chevrolet, crossovers and trucks were exceptionally strong. Chevrolet trucks, vans and SUVs were up of combined 18% and so were crossovers. On a nameplate basis, the Equinox had its best February ever with sales up 16%, the Suburban was up 13% and Tahoe was up 26%. Our newest crossover, the redesigned Traverse was up 9% in total and 20% at retail. It is clearly off to a very good start.

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