Toyota Camry, Honda Civic Inventories Rise, RBC Says

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Camry and Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s Civic, the top-selling mid-size and compact cars in the U.S., face risk of reduced production as inventories of the models rise, an RBC Capital Markets report said.

Toyota’s Camry exceeded its seasonal historical average inventory by more than 15 days supply in June and Honda carried about 25 days more Civics than usual, Joseph Spak, a New York-based analyst for RBC, said in yesterday’s report. Camry and Civic were the only models identified as at risk for reduced output among 16 of the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. market.

General Motors Co. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler Group LLC all added U.S. market share in the first six months of 2013, the first time that all three gained first-half share in 20 years. Models such as GM’s Chevrolet Cruze compact and Ford’s Fusion mid-size sedan, leading Detroit’s most competitive set of passenger cars in a generation, may need additional production to meet demand, according to RBC.

“Toyota is pulling out all stops to sustain its No. 1 market position against a slew of new competition,” wrote Spak, who has outperform ratings on both GM and Ford. “We continue to see downside risk to production schedules for the Civic line as inventories remain well above historical levels.”

Toyota’s Camry inventory was at 55 days supply in June, compared with 57 a year earlier, Carly Schaffner, a spokeswoman for the Toyota City, Japan-based company said yesterday in an e-mail.

‘Customer Demand’

“Camry has been running at a days supply in the 50s since January,” Schaffner said. “Our production is flexible and based on customer demand.”

Steve Kinkade, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Honda, said in an e-mail yesterday that the company has about a 60-day supply of Civics. Honda has no fleet sales unit and estimates about 98 percent of Civic deliveries are to individual buyers. Civic inventory “is a positive for us in getting dealers vehicles,” Kinkade said.

Growth by GM, Ford and Chrysler is driving industrywide sales to the highest since 2007, with analysts projecting 15.4 million cars and light trucks sold this year, the average of 18 estimates in a survey by Bloomberg News.

Sales of Detroit-based GM’s Chevy Cruze jumped 73 percent last month to 32,871, trailing only Toyota’s Camry at 35,870 among the top-selling passenger cars for June.

“Based on current production schedules and recent demand, it looks like the Chevy Cruze could use a little more stock,” Spak wrote.

‘Upside Potential’

Deliveries of Ford’s Fusion family car slipped 0.5 percent in June, which the Dearborn, Michigan-based company attributed to tight supply. Sales of the car climbed 18 percent in the first six months, and Ford is adding a second shift of 1,200 workers to its Mustang assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, to start building Fusions there later this year.

“Fusion stock is improving, and will continue to improve as Flat Rock assembly gets up and running,” Spak wrote. “We see upside potential to production as Ford would like to get as many of these hot vehicles out.”

Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, increased its market share by 0.8 percentage points in the first half to 16.5 percent, according to Automotive News Data Center. Market share for Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler, the third-biggest domestic carmaker, grew by more than 0.1 point to 11.6 percent. GM, the top-selling automaker in the U.S. market, boosted its share by less than 0.1 point to almost 18.2 percent.

Ford rose 0.7 percent to $16.81 at at the close yesterday in New York while GM fell 0.1 percent to $34.64. Ford has surged 30 percent this year while GM has climbed 20 percent, both exceeding the 15 percent rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

To contact the reporters on this story: Craig Trudell in Southfield, Michigan at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net; Megan Durisin in Southfield, Michigan at mdurisin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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