|FORD - 9.45|
Ford's April Sales Slide on SUV Weakness
Tuesday May 3, 1:51 pm ET
By Sarah Karush, Associated Press Writer
Ford Sales Drop 5.1 Percent in April on SUV Sales Decline Against Backdrop of Higher Gas Prices
DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its April new-vehicle sales fell 5.1 percent as SUV sales fell against a backdrop of higher gas prices.
Sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brand cars were off 2.4 percent from April 2004, while truck sales fell 6.4 percent. Ford said the decline in truck sales was due to lower sales of traditional sport utility vehicles, while crossovers and full-size pickups saw increased demand.
Sales percentages are adjusted for differences in the number of selling days. There were 27 selling days in April 2005 and 26 in April 2004.
Despite the drop in overall sales, the nation's second-largest automaker reported a bright spot -- an increase in retail car sales, or cars sold to customers at dealerships. In contrast, fleet includes sales to businesses such as rental car companies.
However, truck fleet sales rose considerably, Ford sales analyst George Pipas said.
The Mustang continued its pace with sales of 19,559 -- the highest April sales for the car since 1980, Ford said.
"Right now, the only thing keeping Mustang at bay is lack of inventory," said Steve Lyons, Ford's vice president for North American marketing, sales and service. He estimated Ford dealers had fewer than 13,000 Mustangs in stock at the end of April.
Ford also reported strong demand for its new sedans, the Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego, and for the Ford Freestyle crossover utility. Combined sales for the three vehicles exceeded 18,000 for the first time, the company said.
Ford shares were up 21 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $9.43 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Ford said last month it earned $1.2 billion, or 60 cents a share, in the first quarter, down from $1.95 billion, or 94 cents, the year before. The company also predicted a tough second quarter, with earnings ranging from break-even to a loss of 15 cents a share, and cut its second-quarter production plans 3.7 percent to 905,000 vehicles.
Ford Motor Co.: ford.com