Ford Motor Company (F -3.78%) said that its U.S. sales fell 8.3% in January from a year ago, as tight pickup-truck supplies and discontinued sedan models made for a tough comparison.
There was better news on the retail front, where sales were up 5.5% from a year ago. Ford is prioritizing higher-profit retail sales over commercial-fleet sales as it builds up dealer stocks of its all-new F-150 pickup and Bronco Sport SUV.
Key points from Ford's sales report
- Sales of Ford's F-Series pickups, which include the F-150 and the larger Super Duty models, were down 5.5% from a year ago. Ford said that its all-new 2021 F-150s are still in short supply, but they're selling very well: They're spending just 13 days on dealers' lots, on average — a very low number — and retail sales were up 6.4% from January of 2020. Retail sales of the F-Series Super Duty pickups were up 17%.
- Overall Ford-brand SUV sales were up 7.6% from a year ago, led by an 11% gain for the Explorer and 8,050 sales of the new Bronco Sport. But some of those Bronco Sport sales might have cut into the totals of the similarly sized Escape, which fell 21% or about 3,000 units.
- Ford-brand car sales were down over 56%, no surprise now that the last examples of the discontinued Focus and Fiesta have been sold. There are a few Fusions left on dealer lots — Ford sold about 2,700 in January — but the Mustang and the ultra-expensive GT sports car are the only Ford cars currently in production for the U.S. market.
- Sales of Lincoln-brand SUVs were roughly flat from a year ago, as good gains for the new Corsair and big Navigator (up 7% and 9% respectively) were offset by sales declines elsewhere.
Next up: Ford earnings
Ford will report its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 earnings after the market closes tomorrow, Feb 4. Analysts are expecting a loss, on high costs related to the F-150 and Bronco Sport launches, but there are some reasons to think that Ford might surprise us.