Don't expect to see an improvement in February light vehicle sales. Bad weather, talk of war and weak consumer confidence have led analysts to believe February sales will mimic January's decline.
January 2003 sales of 1,090,784 were down 1.9 percent from year-ago levels.
"February's light vehicle seasonally adjusted annual rate appears to be unchanged from January's sluggish 16.2 million unit as the effect of higher incentives has been blunted by winter storms on the east coast and weaker consumer confidence," said auto analyst John Casesa of Merrill Lynch & Co.
Nine analysts surveyed by Automotive News late last year projected an average of 16.4 million sales in 2003. Last year, 16.9 million light vehicles were sold in the United States.
February 2002 sales came in at a seasonal rate of 16.9 million.
David Healy of Burnham Investment Research sees February 2003 sales dropping 3 percent, for a SAAR of 16.3 million. Healy views the winter weather and potential for war having a negative effect, as "some vehicle purchases are probably being postponed. Our belief is that the vehicle sales rate will improve once we dig out from the blizzard and the Iraq situation."
J.D. Power and Associates on Thursday forecasted the February light vehicle SAAR to be 15.8 million units. Its Power Information Network affiliate predicted February light vehicle sales of 1.25 million units.
Other estimates call for Chrysler group and General Motors' sales to be down and Ford Motor Co. sales be flat. Sales of foreign brands are expected to rise.
Manufacturers will report February sales on Monday, March 3.