Shares of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) were down on Wednesday after Ford said that its U.S. sales fell 4.9% in the third quarter on weak results for its SUVs and F-Series pickups.
As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, Ford's shares were down about 3.8% from Tuesday's closing price. The shares had been down as much as 5.1% in trading earlier in the day.
Ford said that its SUV and car sales fell 10.5% and 29.5%, respectively, from a year ago, more than offsetting an 8.8% increase in truck sales. The overall U.S. light-vehicle market was roughly flat in the third quarter versus the year-ago period.
The drop in Ford's car sales was expected, as Ford has discontinued the Fiesta, Focus, C-Max, and Taurus models in the United States. The Focus and C-Max are already sold out; dealers have limited supplies of the others.
The decline in SUV sales was a little more worrisome. It was largely due to tight supplies of the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer, a result of a slow production ramp-up after quality issues were detected in early production examples. That will largely sort itself out in time, but analysts had expected Ford to have higher inventories of the new Explorer by now. (Ford said that the sell-down of the outgoing 2019 model is complete.)
Finally, while Ford's truck sales were up, there are reasons for concern. Ford's commercial vans are doing well, but sales of its F-Series pickups -- a primary driver of profit for the company -- fell 6% in the quarter, losing ground to newer models from General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU).
Investors looking for perspective should remember that Ford's U.S. product portfolio is in transition. The Fusion and Mustang are the only Ford-brand cars still in production, as Ford is hoping to replace sedan sales with SUV sales -- but supplies of the new Explorer are still tight, and production of an all-new Escape has just begun.
Ford has more new SUVs on the way and an all-new F-150 pickup coming next year. It's not surprising that it lost some ground in the third quarter, but investors will want to hear that things are on track when Ford reports earnings on Oct. 23.