Ford Says U.S. Auto Sales Pace Slowed After Labor Day

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, said the pace of industry sales slowed this month after hitting a six-year high in August.

“The industry has slowed in September after a very, very strong Labor Day weekend,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, said today in an interview at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. “It’s still a healthy industry but it’s taking a little bit of a breather from the last three months.”

U.S. car and light truck sales sold at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 16.1 million in August, the fastest pace since October 2007, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Automakers including Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford counted deliveries through Sept. 3 in their August sales results. Ford and analysts at LMC Automotive are pointing to anomalies with the sales reporting calendar for slower demand in September.

LMC predicted the U.S. sales rate will slow to 15.2 million this month in a Sept. 19 statement. Analysts at Deutsche Bank AG and CLSA Americas LLC have estimated a 15.3 million pace, while JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc, RBC Capital Markets LLC and are predicting 15.4 million.

“At this stage, we don’t think the SAAR will be as strong as the last few months,” Hinrichs said. “It’s back-to-school time and again Labor Day was in August sales, so a little bit different year-over-year comparisons.”

Trucks and sport-utility vehicles continue to sell well, Hinrichs said.

Deliveries of new cars and light trucks may rise to 16.1 million next year, the average estimate of 13 analysts in a survey by Bloomberg News this month. That’s about 500,000 more vehicles than automakers are on pace to sell this year, and while it’s within reach of 2007’s 16.15 million, it’s well short of the industry’s 17.4 million peak in 2000.

Ford rose 0.5 percent to $17.27 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 33 percent this year, compared with a 19 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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