General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) stock has been downgraded by investment firm Argus from a Buy to a Hold on the belief that the current year will likely mark the peak of the current auto sales cycle in the country. Shares for the country’s largest automaker are trading flat in early trading today at $29.7.
The firm acknowledged GM’s strong performance lately but noted the company and its peers have been benefiting from an industry wide boom in auto sales that may well start tapering off from this year. The firm expects new auto sales in the US to grow only 1.1% this year, down significantly from last year’s growth rate of 6% and 7.7% in 2014.
More worryingly, the firm also predicts GM’s international sales could also be adversely affected from the lull in some emerging markets like Russia and some South American markets. Earlier this month GM announced it may pull out from its commitment to invest $1.6 billion in Brazil if the socio-economic and political condition in the country does not improve.
Argus is modeling for GM’s net earnings to grow only 9.6% this year, down from the 64.6% jump that the company posted last year. The firm expects the company’s diluted EPS to clock in at $5.50, up from a prior estimate of $5.42. GM’s 2017 adjusted EPS has been modeled to come in at $5.7, implying a 4% increase from the current year, but slightly behind the consensus adjusted EPS estimate of $5.77.
Notably, Argus has not been the first Wall Street firm to raise a red flag against rising auto sales in the US. In a report last week Morgan Stanley also highlighted similar concerns and issued caution for each of the Detroit three: GM, Ford and Fiat on an impending broader industry slowdown going into the near future.
Morgan Stanley had said it expects price points for each of the major American automakers to not only dip in the US but also in other key global markets like Europe and China.