Moody’s expects January’s strong US vehicle sales growth to continue through 2102, supporting the credit outlook for US manufacturers.
US light-vehicle sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 14.2 million units in January 2012. This is consistent with Moody’s base-case estimate of 14 million units for all of 2012, up 9.3% from 2011.
Monthly SAAR has increased at a steady pace from 11.5 million units in June 2011. We believe this momentum will continue through 2012.
The health of the US economy continues to face considerable uncertainty and there is consequently some downside risk inherent in Moody’s 14 million unit estimate. Nevertheless, Moody’s base-case view of vehicle sales, combined with the operating characteristics and financial profiles of the Detroit-3 auto manufacturers, supports the rating and positive outlook of each company: Ford Motor Company (Ba1 positive); General Motors Company (Ba1 positive); and Chrysler Group LLC (B2 positive).