Dueling Analysts: Edmunds, J.D. Power Predict Strong, Weak Sales For 2010

August 20, 2010
U.S. Retail SAAR from August 2009 to August 2010 [via J.D. Power]

U.S. Retail SAAR from August 2009 to August 2010 [via J.D. Power]

Yesterday, Edmunds and J.D. Power announced their predictions for August sales. And while the numbers were pretty close, the two companies' spins were decidedly different.

Of the two, J.D. Power provided the more in-depth analysis, predicting that new-vehicle retail sales will slip from just over 878,000 in July 2010 to 857,000 in August. That brings the seasonally adjusted annualized rate for retail sales to 8.9 million units, down from 9.2 million last month.

Those figures sound vaguely depressing, until we reach the end of the third paragraph. That's when Jeff Schuster, the company's executive director of global forecasting, says that if we remove the sales distortion caused by last August's Cash for Clunkers program, "August 2010 is actually up about 14 percent on a selling day-adjusted basis, signaling continued improvement year over year". That's the silver lining that closet optimists were hoping for.

In all, J.D. Power expects total sales for 2010 -- including fleets -- to settle at 11.6 million units, slightly down from its previous estimate of 11.7 million.

Edmunds was a little rosier in its appraisal -- unusual, since we often think of Edmunds as our dour, slightly pessimistic aunt (who often turns out to be right). Edmunds doesn't go into the disparities between retail and fleet, but pegs total sales for August at 1.03 million units, which is exactly the figure that J.D. Power put out.

The difference between the two lies in Edmunds' expectations for the remainder of 2010. While Power predicts faltering retail sales, Edmunds' analysts see continued strength, with bargain-hunters taking advantage of incentives and model year-end deals. Edmunds puts seasonally adjusted annualized sales for the total auto market at 11.8 million units -- 200,000 higher than J.D. Power.

If this is kind of economic and industry chatter gets you all hot and bothered under the white collar, you might also enjoy a look at Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl's latest post to his Typepad (yes: Typepad) blog about GM's upcoming IPO. It's well worth the short read.

[J.D.Power, Edmunds]

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