Although GM and BMW are the only auto manufacturers to have production facilities on the East Coast in the path of Hurricane Irene, all manufacturers have dealerships including some suppliers in the storm’s path.
While Hurricane Irene marched up the East Coast over the weekend and tornados spun off, killing as many as 22 people and leaving millions without power, the massive storm will be known more for its deluge of rain which triggered huge floods with reports of billions of dollar in property damage.
Obviously, this will affect the next quarter sales for most automakers, as it will affect the commisssions on sales at dealerships, not to mention the stocks themselves. For the record, stocks like General Motors (NYSE: GM), Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and even Toyota Motors (NYSE: TM) have been in a trading trough for the past two months already.
The fact that auto dealers keep most of their inventories out of doors does not bode well for profits let alone auto sales on the East Coast. Aside from the water intrusion from driving rain, think high wind damage from flying debris and, for sure, flooding; not to mention other possible damages that can come with a massive hurricane like Irene.
Then there are the buildings. For sure the cars can be easily replaced, but not so fast with the dealership buildings. This will affect sales for a longer term.
It was notable this morning that no reports from GM, Ford or any other dealers appeared on their media websites. The assessments are likely still going on.
On the other hand, markets have opened and are expected to trade normally. By 10 a.m. the Dow was up 173 points. That doesn’t mean much, though, for a dealership owner with a bunch of trashed vehicles on his or her lot. Same goes for used car dealerships.
According to Torque News editor, Armen Hareyan, his family was fortunately spared. He said this morning, “We are in Hickory, North Carolina which is about 5 hours driving distance from the coast. While we were expecting a lot of rain, what we got was only sunny days and a few high winds. The storm hit on the coast and moved north. We can only assume the dealerships in the coastal areas are more effected.”
That much has been confirmed by a video report from today’s Automotive News A.M First Shift Newscast with Jennifer Vuong, where a Kia dealer near Cape Fear in North Caroline took a major hit. Elsewhere in that area a tornado pulled the roof off of a used car dealership.
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