Auto execs expect more bankruptcies

Annual survey of industry execs by KPMG finds more than three out of four expect more auto bankruptcies.

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By Chris Isidore, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- More than three out of four auto executives expect more bankruptcies in their industry, according to an annual survey by audit and accounting firm KPMG LLP.

The survey of 200 top executives from automakers and suppliers around the globe found 77% expect more industry bankruptcies, compared to just 36% who expected an increase in bankruptcies a year ago.

So far, major automakers have avoided bankruptcy in spite of years of losses. But there have been widespread bankruptcy filings among auto parts suppliers in recent years.

The survey was conducted in the fall, before the U.S. government offered a federal loan package to General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) and Chrysler LLC to allow them to avoid threatened bankruptcy filings. Other governments around the world are considering assistance for their own automakers due to the sharp downturn in global sales.

The survey also found that 46% of the executives believe the profit outlook for the overall industry will be volatile over the next five years, and another 24% see profitability continuing to decline. Only 15% of those surveyed expect profits to improve.

Betsy Meter, a partner in KPMG's auto practice, said she believes concerns about bankruptcies are still high, despite the fact that GM and Chrysler have received emergency funding to avoid running out of the cash they need to operate.

"I suspect it's moderated slightly, but I think there's a great level of uncertainty," she said.

While most automakers around the globe haven been hit hard during this recession, the three U.S. automakers are still viewed as particularly vulnerable by industry executives.

More than 60% of those surveyed believe that GM, Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler will continue to lose global market share in the coming years, while comparable percentages believe that Toyota Motor (TM), Hyundai/Kia, Honda Motor (HMC) and Volkswagen will all gain share.

In addition, about 80% of the executives said they believe Chinese and Indian automakers will gain market share.

Still, industry executives haven't completely written off the U.S. automakers. Asked if they agreed with the statement that restructuring efforts in the U.S. industry may yet succeed, 50% said they did. However, that was down from 58% who agreed with this statement a year ago. To top of page

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