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General Motors' 4th-Quarter Financial Results: Here's What You Need to Know

- By Mayank Marwah

The Detroit-based automaker General Motors (GM) said its fourth-quarter U.S. sales dropped 2.7% year-over-year to 785,229 units. Whiles the company saw sales growth in the GMC brand, sales at other major brands, namely Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick, declined during the quarter. Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, sales operations, commented:

"We have built the most successful pickup, SUV and crossover business in the industry and we gained considerable momentum in the fourth quarter of 2018 as dealers began delivering the all-new Chevrolet Silverado , GMC Sierra and Cadillac XT4 ... We feel confident heading into 2019 because we have more major truck and crossover launches coming during the year and the U.S. economy is strong."

Snapshot of the quarter

The company said its fleet sales plunged 4% in the quarter while its retail deliveries made 80% of the total sales during the same period. Average transaction price (ATPs) for the quarter came in at $36,974. Furthermore, the company's incentive spending, as a percentage of ATP, was 12.7%. At the end of the year, the company had inventory of 755,000 units, which remained roughly the same as compared with last year's inventory.

How did the brands fare?

Chevrolet saw sales decline of 3.2% in the fourth quarter to 531,985 units. Silverado, unsurprisingly, turned out to be the best-seller in terms of volumes sold in the quarter (161,178 units). Traverse crossover sales jumped 14.13% year on year to 39,536 units. However, Bolt EV sales dipped 30.9% to 6,212 units. Additional, sales declined 7.1% to 3,955 units for Cruze and 17.03% to 37,084 units for Malibu.

Cadillac sales sank 2.7% to 41,462 vehicles. The sales downfall was attributable to poor performance at most of the brand's key models: ATS (down 80%), CT6 (down 29%) and CTS ( down25.9%). Brand's top-selling model XT5 saw 50.83% sales decline to 9,083 units.

Buick sales for the fourth quarter amounted to 51,257 units, down 13.7% year-on-year. While Enclave sales went down roughly 16% to 14,420 units, Envision sales declined 28.8% to 7,535 units. By contrast Encore was a bright spot for the brand as its sales inched up a 0.23% to 23,326 units. However, that could not push the company's sales volume enough to give Buick a positive sales growth.

Of all the brands, GMC was the only brand to report positive results. GMC sold 160,525 vehicles in the quarter that reflected a 3.5% rise from the same period last year. Yukon and Terrain posted double-digit sales growth during the period. Brand's top-seller Sierra saw sales growth of 6.06% to 67,312 units. However, sales plunged 11.83% for Acadia (25,128 units) and 7% for Canyon (8,219 units).

Company saw big EV gains during the quarter

General Motors is the only car maker after Tesla (TSLA) to have sold more than 200,000 electric vehicles (EV) in 2018, which means that the company would witness a cut in the federal tax credit available to EV buyers from $7,500 currently to $3,750 in April, and then to $1,875 in October.

Disclosure: I do not hold any position in the stocks mentioned.

This article first appeared on GuruFocus.