U.S. Auto Sales Still Strong In February

We continue to find more good news for auto manufacturers as the preliminary sales results indicate that they had their best February in 15 years. February was nice for big auto makers because it included an extra day--thanks to leap year, some pent up demand due to bad weather in January, and lots of President's Day sales led to great numbers for many.

Fiat/Chrysler posted a 12% gain, Nissan was similar with an 11% increase, and Ford led the way with a giant 20% leap in February sales. Ford did great thanks to sales of its hugely popular F-Series trucks and other SUVs.

On the other hand, Volkswagen is in trouble in the US due to the continued fallout from their emissions-cheating scandal. GM also had some trouble, with a slight dip in sales year-over-year--1.5%.

As we have reported over the past few months, low interest rates, a better overall labor market, and low gas prices are making the bigger cars, SUVs, and trucks popular once again. Those vehicles are the most-profitable for manufacturers, so this environment is particularly kind to the bottom line.

Of course, one wonders how long this trend can continue, given the fact that the big profits are based on vehicles which will most certainly fall out of favor as soon as gas prices return to more "normal" levels. Drivers seem to have short memories. But investors should remember the sort of angst out there when people were trying to fill the tanks of Hummers at $5/gallon.

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