GM expects 'modest' gain in U.S. retail market share in 2014

GM issued its profit outlook as Mary Barra began her first day as CEO.
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DETROIT -- General Motors expects to gain "modest" U.S. market share at the retail level in 2014 while continuing to command strong prices, the company said today as its new executive management team took charge.

GM's market share overall was essentially flat last year, at 17.9 percent, although the company said its retail share grew as sales to individual buyers increased at a faster pace than the market for all four of its brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

"The momentum is going to continue" in 2014, said Chuck Stevens, who was appointed on Tuesday as GM's new CFO, replacing Dan Ammann, who is now GM's president overseeing its regional operations.

CEO Mary Barra took the reins of the automaker today from outgoing CEO Dan Akerson.

Stevens told analysts during an investor conference here that GM expects U.S. light vehicle sales overall in 2014 to be 16 million to 16.5 million units, which would be a 3 to 6 percent increase from the 15.6 million units sold last year.

He said GM's retail share should grow from 2013, with a "modest market share increase." Retail sales accounted for about 76 percent of GM's 2.9 million unit sales last year, with sales to fleet customers accounting for about 24 percent.

The stout pricing that GM enjoyed in 2013 should grow even stronger this year, Stevens said, despite signs of increased incentive activity in the market.

GM expects that its U.S. lineup of new, redesigned and refreshed vehicles -- it launched 18 new cars and trucks in 2013 and plans another 13 launches this year -- will command firmer prices even as it expects rivals to be aggressive with incentives.

Key rollouts this year will include the launch this spring of GM's big SUVs -- the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and Cadillac Escalade -- and the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickups in the fall.

Stevens said firmer pricing from upcoming launches and last year's entries, including GM's highly profitable redesigned full-sized pickups, the Cadillac CTS and Chevy Impala, will offset weaker pricing from aging products.

"I think there's going to be a test," Stevens said. "Growth is going to slow. The incentive activity is starting to ramp up a little bit." He said GM will continue to align its vehicle production with market demands.

The forecast today follows GM's announcement on Tuesday that it will pay its first quarterly stock dividend to common shareholders in six years. The payout of 30 cents per share will be payable on March 28 to shareholders of record on March 18.

You can reach Mike Colias at mcolias@crain.com.


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