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General Motors Company (GM)

November 01, 2011 11:00 am ET


Don Johnson - Former Vice President of International Operational Sales, Marketing & Aftersales

Jim Cain -


David Shepardson

Todd Lassa - MotorTrend

Adam Jonas - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Craig Trudell

Robert Schoenberger - Plain Dealer

Colin Langan - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Himanshu Patel - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Rod Lache - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

David Welch - BusinessWeek

Mike Colias

Greg Gardner

John Murphy - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Brian Arthur Johnson - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Christopher J. Ceraso - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Dee-Ann Durbin - The Associated Press

Patrick Archambault - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the General Motors Monthly U.S. Vehicle Sales Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded, Tuesday, November 1, 2011. I would now like to turn the conference over to Jim Cain with GM Communications. You may proceed, sir.

Jim Cain

Thank you very much, and welcome to our October sales call, everybody. As we normally do, we'll have some remarks about our results followed by Q&A. I would just remind everyone on the call that the contents are covered by our forward-looking statements, which you can read on our press release. If you haven't already downloaded our slides and press release, they are available on the GM media website and on in the Investor pages.

With that, it's my pleasure to introduce Don Johnson, who is the Vice President of U.S. Sales Operations for General Motors.

Don Johnson

Thanks, Jim. Good morning, everybody. Thanks again for joining us. As what we do each month, I'm going to start by reviewing highlights from our Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick sales report and then we'll talk about some of the factors that we think are at work in the market and finally, spend a few minutes looking into the future. So after that, I'll take your questions.

Now as you've read by now, we reported total sales for the month of almost 187,000 units, which is 2% higher than last October sales. And last October was a month that was one of our best in 2010, so increasing on that, I think, is an important point. Retail sales were up 3%, and our fleet sales were about flat to last year, down about 200 units.

Our results, when you dig down and look at it in October, were really driven by Chevrolet, which accounts for about 70% of GM's sales in the U.S. And in a month where the Chevrolet brand is celebrating its centennial, it's really great to see this global icon deliver the goods.

Consider that sales were up 22% for the Camaro, 18% for the Equinox and 7% for Silverado and our hot-selling Cruze is up 104% compared with the combined sales last year of Cruze and Cobalt. And month-over-month, Volt sales were up over 50% versus September. And when you look at our other brands, total sales were off from last year's strong October. Sales were down 5% at GMC, 7% at Buick and 12% at Cadillac.

However, we're very pleased with our newest Buick, Cadillac and GMC products, which continue to deliver standout performances. The SRX is an example increased by 13%. Buick Regal sales increased by 40%, and the GMC Terrain was up 17%. And really is the ongoing success of these new products has helped deliver calendar year-to-date sales increases of 6% up for Cadillac, 14% up for Chevrolet, 20% up for Buick and 23% year-to-date up for GMC. And all of that adds up to 15.4% increase for General Motors year-to-date. And our market share growth during the first 10 months is almost a full point, bringing us to a year-to-date share of 19.4%.

Now without a doubt, the modest economic growth we've seen, lower fuel prices and improved credit availability were tailwinds that benefited GM and the industry all year. But for us, it really comes down to the great products that we've put into the market. And we started with very strong designs. We had very consistent launches, and then we enhanced a number of them over time with features like new 3.6-liter engine that's in the Cadillac SRX now, the new GS and Turbo models for the Buick Regal and, of course, the 42 mile-per-gallon Eco addition of the Chevrolet Cruze.

So I look back on the performance in October, I'd say that we're pleased. We're pleased with another month of year-over-year gains for GM and really for the industry. When we look at the industry, we did see some of the Japanese manufacturers start to regain their footing. As we expected, this contributed to a higher SAAR in October, what we expect will be around 13.7 million, and that's up from 13.4 million in September. And if that does come through, it will be the highest SAAR in 2011. And again, I'll remind everybody those numbers are based on light, medium and heavy-duty industry.

For us at GM, it was really a bit of a transition month in which we saw a shift in emphasis from our 2011 model years to the 2012s. More than 80% of our sales in October were 2012 models in the passenger car side, and there were about half of our truck and our crossover sales. This helped us reduce our incentives as a percent of revenue to 88%, pardon me, to 8.8%, which is down a full point from September. And if you look at that in dollar terms, our incentives were down about $300 month-to-month and down almost that same amount year-over-year. So on a relative basis for the month, we were at about the industry average and as much as 2 full percentage points below some of our full-line competitors.

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