Did "Black Friday" give U.S. auto sales a big boost?
We won't know for sure until the automakers release their November sales results on Tuesday. And overall, analysts are predicting just a small year-over-year gain for U.S. auto sales.
But some analysts think that holiday-minded shoppers might have been more inclined to spend big on a new ride -- and General Motors (NYSE:GM) could turn out to be a big winner.
A nice Black Friday boost for GM
Several leading analysts predict that GM will post a big year-over-year sales gain for November, thanks in part to the company's Black Friday discount promotion.
Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez is looking for a 12% year-over-year gain for GM, which would lead the market. He said in a statement that GM's new 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra likely saw solid sales growth in November.
Gutierrez also forecasts good results for GM's Cadillac and Buick brands, as recent models like Cadillac's ATS and XTS continue to gain ground on luxury-brand rivals. That would be especially promising for GM's efforts to boost Cadillac: The luxury brand isn't included in GM's Black Friday discount program.
But Gutierrez, like other analysts, sees a much smaller gain for Ford (NYSE:F), just 6.2%. Ford's Black Friday promotion, which offers car-buyers a prepaid Visa card worth up to $1,000, has received wide attention.
But so far at least, it doesn't appear to have done big things for the Blue Oval's sales.
Did Ford get on Santa's "naughty" list?
Gutierrez does think that Ford's Escape will post good gains, as sales of small crossover SUVs have continued to be very strong.
Meanwhile, Edmunds.com's Jessica Caldwell sees an even smaller gain for Ford, just 3%, but thinks that Chrysler will be the month's big winner with a 10% gain. She also feels that the offers made by automakers leading up to Black Friday made a difference.
"Car buyers are already taking advantage of advertised holiday deals," Caldwell said in a statement. "And as we plow deeper into the holiday season the table is set for 2013 to finish on a very strong note."
Why Ford's results might be better than they look
Analysts differ on just how much Ford will gain over last year's sales, but all of the market-watchers I've checked in with see Ford's gains coming in at about half (percentage-wise) of GM's.
But I don't think Ford shareholders should get too worried. Here's why: These gains are all year-over-year gains, meaning that we're comparing the results we expect to see for November 2013 with the results we saw in November of 2012.
And November of 2012 was a very good month for Ford. Ford saw sales rise 12% last November, with big gains for its Focus compact and its F-Series pickups. Meanwhile, GM's sales were up just 3% in November of 2012, as its pickups lost ground to Ford.
That puts the analysts' estimates in perspective. If Ford beats last year's totals by just a bit, November will still turn out to be a good month for Ford — just as it probably was for GM.