Just as we thought GM's channel stuffing days may be coming to an end, and the company may finally be normalizing its inventory management, here come January numbers, where we learn that in addition to car sales declining by 6% compared to a year ago, at 167,962 vehicles sold (of note: "Retail deliveries declined 15 percent compared with the same month a year ago and accounted for 70 percent of GM sales"), it was the all critical month end dealer inventory that caught our attention. And unfortunately as the skeptics expected, GM is back to its old tricks, as dealer inventories rose once again, this time by over 36k units, or the second highest in its post-reorg history, to a near record 619,455 vehicles stored with dealers. This is just the second highest ever in fresh start GM history, second only to November's 623,666. The January-end number represents 89 days supply, but more importantly the recent spike in restocking, which was seen with all other major car dealers, explains the ongoing "expansion" in the US economy as measured by indices such as the ISM. Eventually, when the end demand for these dealer parked vehicles does not materialize, the New Orders so diligently tracked by economists everywhere will slip back under 50, but before that we are confident that the administration will come up with some new Cash for Clunkers plan to take demand from the future and to push it into the days leading into the election, probably funded once again by other taxpayers who don't quite see the fascination with owning a GM car.
And some other manufacturers:
- Ford month-end inventory 86-day supply at end of Jan. (492k vehicles) vs 60-day supply (466k) as of Dec. 31
- Chrysler had 83-day supply (349k units) end of Jan. vs 64-day (326k units) as of Dec. 31
- GM month-end inventory 89-day supply (619k units) vs 67-day supply (583k) Dec. 31