Complete coverge:
January 14 2008: 4:58 PM EST
Email | Print    Type Size  -  +

GM's clouds have silver interiors

Things may look gloomy, but General Motors executives see signs of hope.

By Alex Taylor III, Fortune senior editor

GM's Chevrolet Malibu was named "Car of the Year" at the Detroit Auto Show.

Detroit (Fortune) -- If you are looking for a discouraging word on the U.S. economy, you couldn't find it around the General Motors stand at the Detroit Auto Show Sunday. Executives are putting the best face on some fairly dour economic statistics.

"We think '08 will be down slightly from '07," Cheif Financial Officer Fritz Henderson said, though he added that "the risk of downside has increased in the last six months."

Troy Clarke, head of North American Operations, sees a lot of positive signs. He noted that the auto industry's rate of retail sales, as opposed to commercial fleet sales, increased sharply in December, up to 13.7 million units a year from 12.6 million last fall. And he added that GM (GM, Fortune 500) entered the new year with its lowest inventory of unsold cars in ten years.

One worry point for Clarke. He says there will be an unusual number of interest rate resets in February, March, and April. That could put a squeeze on some home owners.

But in total, he concluded, "I think it is very hard to envision a quarter when we run below [an annual rate] of 16 million units. That wouldn't be a strong year but would be nearly as strong as '07.

GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner warmed to the topic when he pointed out that U.S. auto sales have been running below what it considers "trend" for three of our years. Either pent up demand begins to lift sales up to their usual level, he said, or "Do our trend gurus rethink trend?' To top of page

Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.