U.S. Big Three 'On Fire' (F) (GM)

January 3, 2013 11:56 AM EST
"The auto market is clearly on FIRE!" said Mad Money host Jim Cramer. Despite Cramer's antics, which include an obnoxious sound machine and colorful props, the CNBC host might be onto something.

This morning, General Motors (NYSE: GM), Ford (NYSE: F) and Chrysler reported impressive December sales that topped estimates, growing 4.9, 1.9, and 10 percent respectively. The strong December figures put an exclamation point on the best year for U.S. autos since 2007. In 2013 vehicle sales could post another strong showing, with early projections calling for totals sales of 15.5 million.

Total sales aside, U.S. automakers are also benefiting from what many say has been lacking for years, leadership. Since taking the helm in 2006, CEO Alan Mulally has been successfully in making incremental improvements at Ford, returning the company to profitability.

Autos have always been a feast or famine industry. In December 2012, times are clearly good in the U.S. This is not the case in other areas of the globe, and Mulally and company did not hesitate in October to crimp operations in Europe, despite criticism. Today shares of Ford trade at multi-year highs.

Overall, GM clearly has had a tougher time than Ford. However, in December GM announced it was spending $5.5 billion to buy back stock still held by the treasury. This was viewed as a positive by investors. With GM knocking the cover off the ball this past December, clearly CEO Dan Akerson and Company have reason for optimism, as do investors.

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