Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) said that it sold more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker for the third month in a row in November, as it continued to reap the benefits of improved supplies of semiconductors and other key components.
Ford said it was "the only major U.S. automaker" to report a year-over-year sales increase in November, a phrase that was clearly aimed at old rival General Motors (NYSE:GM) while carefully excluding fast-growing Tesla.
Ford's U.S. sales were up 5.9% in November from a year ago, but they're still down 5.6% for the year.
What Ford said about its November U.S. sales
- Ford gained market share again in November. It was able to sustain the momentum it began building with good results in September and October. While rivals continued to struggle to rebuild depleted dealer inventories, Ford was able to gain ground: It estimates that its share of the U.S. market was 13.8% in November, which would be 2.7 percentage points higher than November of 2020.
- Customer orders continued to be strong. With dealer inventories tight, Ford has been encouraging its retail customers to order the vehicles they want, just the way they want them. That's working well: It took about 74,000 retail orders in November, up from roughly 10,000 in November of last year. And 29% of its retail deliveries last month came from customer orders placed earlier in 2021.
- The all-important F-Series is doing well. Sales of F-Series pickup trucks probably still aren't quite as high as Ford and its dealers would like, but they're up. It sold just over 60,400 F-Series trucks in the U.S. in November, up 14.6% from a year ago. Of note: About 4,700 of those were F-150 Hybrids, new this year. Also of note: The November result ensures that the F-Series will retain its title of "best-selling pickup truck line" for yet another year.
- The little Maverick pickup looks like a hit. Ford delivered just 2,582 Mavericks to U.S. customers in November, but that number doesn't really tell the story. Here's one that does: Mavericks are "turning" in just five days, meaning that's the length of time they spend on dealer lots after being delivered. That's an extremely low number, even amid the new-car shortage we've seen this year, and it suggests that demand is quite a bit greater than Ford can currently supply. (More Mavericks are on the way, Ford says, including more of the hot hybrid models. Ford delivered its first Maverick hybrids at the end of November.)
- Other new Fords are "turning" quickly as well. The company didn't provide a model-by-model breakout, but it did say that its newest models (the Mustang Mach-E, Bronco, Bronco Sport, and Maverick) are all turning in under 12 days.
What it means for Ford investors
I see two positive takeaways for investors in Ford's sales report.
First, while some other automakers, including Toyota (NYSE:TM), continue to struggle with supplies of chips and other components, Ford's third strong month in a row suggests that the Blue Oval is through the worst of its own supply chain issues. That's clearly good news, at least in the short term: With relatively strong dealer inventories, Ford is well positioned to continue taking market share from rivals over the next few months.
Second, Ford's latest models are all looking like bona fide hits. As veteran auto investors know, automakers' profits (and generally, their stock prices) benefit when their latest products are in particularly high demand.
Taken together, Ford appears to be putting together a very nice fourth quarter.