A Good Sign: Housing and Auto Sales Are Both Rising
DETROIT (TheStreet) -- Not to be overly enthusiastic, but two key sectors of the U.S. economy -- autos and housing -- are showing positive trends, perhaps indicating that the U.S. economy can somehow withstand the impact of slow growth and shrinking economies in the rest of the world.
The housing market appears to be in recovery, as both sales numbers and prices are rising. U.S. light vehicle sales, meanwhile, have been recovering since they hit a 23-year-low of 10.3 million in 2009. Experts expect continued growth in the current month and say that sales this year will be in the high 13 millions or low 14 millions, the best since sales of 16.1 million in 2008.
"It's good to see year-to-year housing and auto sales both moving up at the time," said Ford (F) analyst Erich Merkle. "They are running in tandem now." That has not happened since the housing slump began in 2006.
If housing does recover, pickup truck sales could be particular beneficiaries.
"Housing recoveries correlate well with pickup sales,' said Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold, on a conference call with reporters on Thursday. "(Typically), 35% to 40% of pickups are sold to contractor market." he said.The Detroit Three dominate the pickup truck market. In fact, Nesvold said, trading in their shares has historically reflected pickup truck model renewals, with the stocks rising six months ahead of the introduction of a product upgrade.
A plus here is that GM (GM) is expected to introduce the new model Silverado in the second quarter of 2013. The existing Silverado, last remodeled in 2006, is the third best-selling U.S. vehicle this year, with sales up 7% to 160,942 units. Sales rose 22% in May.
So far, investors have not bought into the growth scenario. GM shares are down about 4% this year. "Europe is keeping people out of this stock," Nesvold said. "But the truck refresh intrigues people." Something to remember: The Silverado changeover is still more than six months away.
As for Ford (F) , "It would (historically) trade around F Series renewals," Nesvold said, but now the company is not renewing product as quickly as it once did. "That's the only thing I sweat about," he said. "It is a little too steady-as-she-goes for equity investors."