Ford (F) Sales Up, General Motors

Fresh off their best sales year since 2008, U.S. auto makers posted mixed results in the first month of 2012.

Ford Motor (NYSE: F), the largest publicly traded automaker by market capitalization, saw its U.S. sales increase 7.3% in January. General Motors (NYSE: GM), the second-largest publicly traded U.S. auto maker, reported a 6% decline in January sales from a year ago in part because of the deep discounts the company offered last month.

Despite GM’s year-over-year sale drop-off, its stock is up 1.9% in mid-day trading today. Ford’s stock, meanwhile, is up only 0.9% after its improved sales.

GM’s stock is likely benefitting from the good news about the auto industry as a whole today.  New-vehicle sales surged in the U.S. last month.

No automaker performed better than Chrysler, which is not a publicly traded company. Chrysler’s January sales improved 44% from the same month a year ago. Ironically, booming sales at the one privately-held auto maker among America’s “Big Three” are largely responsible for boosting GM’s publicly traded stock.

GM was the lone major U.S. auto maker to report a year-over-year sales decline last month. Slower sales of its big pickup trucks – Chevy Silverado sales were down 4.7%, GMC Sierra sales dropped 10.4% — were partly responsible for the decline. Cadillac sales were also down 29% from a year ago.

Ford, meanwhile, grew its sales thanks in part to increased interest in its Focus compact car. Overall, Ford expects sales growth of between 2% and 3% in the current quarter.

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