After a couple of rocky months, November is just what the doctor ordered for Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and its investors! Perhaps there was a Trump bump, with more consumers feeling optimistic about the economy now that the election is over. Perhaps the auto industry is figuring out how to sell Black Friday car deals more effectively -- remember, Black Friday is a more recent phenomenon in the auto industry. Whatever the driving force, Ford's November sales were strong. Here are the details and a couple of major takeaways.
By the numbers
Ford's sales for November reached 197,574 vehicles, which was good enough for a 5% gain over the prior November. Better yet, the sales mix between retail and fleet was in Ford's favor. The automaker's retail sales were up an even higher 10%, while fleet sales were down 9%. That essentially means healthier and more profitable retail sales were driving total sales higher, which is a positive sign for investors. Ford's 5% gain was far ahead of estimates, according to Bloomberg, of 0.5%.
SUVs and trucks stole the show
Lincoln sales rose 19% (more on that in a second), which was impressive, but SUVs really stole the show with a 20% gain compared to the prior November. The SUV with the smallest sales gain was the Flex, which is slated to be discontinued and is often ignored anyway, at a healthy 8.4%. The Escape and Explorer posted gains of 10.6% and 13.9%, respectively. Even those double-digit gains were put to shame by the Edge's 32.2% gain.
Not to be overshadowed by the SUV segment gains, Ford's F-150 and the new Super Duty drove total F-Series sales above 70,000 units -- and Ford considers anything above 50,000 a strong monthly figure. That's the first time F-Series sales have surpassed 70,000 during November in the past 15 years. More specifically, F-Series sales hit 72,089 units for an 11% gain in total, but retail sales were up 14%, which suggests consumer demand is robust.
With SUVs and full-size trucks rolling off the lots so quickly, Ford's overall transaction prices shot up $1,000 higher than in the prior November. That figure is far ahead of the industry's $320 gain.
I see you, Continental
Lincoln sales jumped an impressive 19%, with sales hitting 9,429 and creeping toward 10,000 per month, a pace the luxury lineup hasn't averaged for some time. Sales of the Lincoln MKC were up 14.4% compared with the prior year, and the MKZ posted a 9.3% gain, but the real driving forces were the MKX and Continental.
More specifically, the MKX continued on its 2016 warpath with a 30.2% gain, to 2,451 units, good enough to be Lincoln's second best-selling vehicle, just behind the MKZ. But the Continental posted its best sales month since its recent launch, with 1,419 cars rolling out of dealership lots. That's the real driving force behind Lincoln's 19% gain, because, as a fresh addition to the lineup, the model had sold no units during the prior year's comparison period. You can either take Lincoln's large sales gain with a grain of salt for that reason, or understand that this is exactly what an automaker is supposed to do: produce new models and sell more vehicles because of it!
All in all, this was a strong November and investors can hope the momentum remains through the entire holiday season. Despite new-vehicle sales peaking, there's nothing to suggest that total industry sales won't remain near record levels -- investors can consider that an early Christmas present.