REPORT: Fitch Ratings says U.S. auto industry headed for airline-style cyclical bankruptcies
Fitch gives plenty of reasons that the auto industry is far from out of the woods, chief among them is the continuation of weak sales. The ratings agency predicts 2010 car sales will rise by 7.8% to 11.1 million units, an improvement that is still far shy of the industry's peak sales of 17 million units. Another chief concern is GM and Chrysler's inability to access the credit markets for the foreseeable future. Credit markets are tight enough already, and Fitch doesn't see any bank lining up to loan money to any company fresh out of bankruptcy and still in restructuring mode. And if suppliers don't become more healthy or if gas prices spike again, Fitch sees the potential for more stress and ultimately more bankruptcies. And the Detroit 3 still have to contend with a high dollar union workforce and retiree obligations. Of the Detroit automakers, Fitch unsurprisingly sees the most stability at Ford. The Blue Oval still has access to bank loans and Fitch feels it has the strongest product lineup as well.
While we certainly agree that the auto industry is anything but out of the woods, we're also a bit skeptical of Fitch Ratings' foggy crystal ball. After all, Fitch didn't foresee much of the banking collapse that brought this country to its largest recession in decades until the collapse was painfully obvious, giving AA ratings to banks like Lehman Bros. only one year before that financial institution's dive into Chapter 11 protection.
[Source: Reuters | Photo by David Goldman/Getty]
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