U.S. auto sales will rise slightly in February compared with the same month last year, analysts say. Japanese automakers are likely to bite off a bigger chunk of the market.
Two analysts - David Healy of Burnham Securities Inc. and Jesse Toprak at Edmunds.com - foresee U.S. February sales rising 1 or 2 percent above the 1.3 million units sold in February 2005.
Both analysts had predicted that January sales would come in beneath the year-earlier total but were surprised when January sales increased 7.5 percent to 1.1 million units. What happened? General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group posted extraordinarily big sales to fleets during January, a move the analysts hadn't expected.
Toprak and Healy expect February's sales to be more typical. Lately, typical means market share gains for Toyota and Honda and share losses for GM and Ford Motor.