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Wall Street eyes auto industry earnings for signs of demand destruction
“Auto sentiment is very poor. We get it. Higher rates, still high prices, low consumer confidence, a potential recession and European energy risk does not make autos a friendly place,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak wrote in an investor note last week.
Spak said third-quarter earnings “should mostly be fine,” with the focus being on company commentary and guidance revisions. He said 2023 estimates for the sector need to “move materially lower.”
RBC and other financial firms have signaled the auto industry’s supply chain issues could quickly shift to demand problems.
Profits for U.S. and European car companies are set to drop by half next year as weakening demand leads to an oversupply of vehicles, UBS analysts led by Patrick Hummel told investors last week.
He said the overall automotive sector in 2023 “is deteriorating fast so that demand destruction seems inevitable at a time when supply is improving.”
On Oct. 10, Hummel also downgraded General Motors and Ford Motor, predicting it that it would take three to six months for the auto industry to end up in oversupply. He said that will “put an abrupt end” to the unprecedented pricing power and profit margins for the automakers in the past three years.
The investment firm downgraded Ford to “sell” from “neutral” and GM to “neutral” from “buy” – sending both stocks tumbling roughly 8% during intraday trading on Oct. 10.
The downgrades came weeks after Ford said parts shortages affected roughly 40,000 to 45,000 vehicles, primarily high-margin trucks and SUVs that haven’t been able to reach dealers. Ford also said at the time that it expects to book an extra $1 billion in unexpected supplier costs during the third quarter.