April 3, 2018 / 4:03 AM / 17 days ago

GM will stop reporting monthly U.S. vehicle sales

DETROIT, April 3 (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Tuesday it will stop reporting monthly U.S. vehicle sales, saying the 30-day snapshot does not accurately reflect the market and will instead issue quarterly sales.

GM will also no longer report monthly sales in China, its largest market, and Brazil. GM will provide monthly data to the U.S. Federal Reserve, industry associations and government agencies across the globe but that data is not made public.

Analysts and investors rely on monthly U.S. vehicle sales not just to track the performance of individual automakers, but as a barometer of the health of the world’s second-largest auto market and as an indicator of consumer confidence in the U.S. economy overall.

GM and its Detroit rivals Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV have relied heavily on sales of high-margin pickup truck and SUV sales to boost profits.

GM’s total U.S. sales, its second-largest market, are down 3.2 percent for the first two months of 2018, reflecting a 6.8 percent drop in retail sales to individual customers, the company reported last month.

GM executives have expressed frustration that comparisons of monthly U.S. sales results among rival automakers are distorted by short-term discount programs, and by differences in strategy for selling vehicles in bulk to rental car fleets.

“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president for sales operations said in a statement.

GM’s actions could prompt other automakers to also switch to quarterly U.S. sales reports. Major automakers will report March U.S. new vehicle sales on Tuesday.

Until the early 1990s, most U.S. automakers released sales results every 10 days. The former Chrysler Corp, a forerunner of today’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, stopped reporting sales on a 10-day basis in 1990, and rivals followed suit over the next three years.

GM executives are betting that investors will quickly adapt to receiving U.S. sales data every three months, as investors in other retail sectors already have. Retailers such as Walmart Inc report sales on a quarterly basis.

Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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