Time to Trade In?

No, not your car, your auto stocks. Slowing SUV sales might be a sign to sell Detroit, buy Japan

American families own more four-wheel-drive trucks than the Army--but unlike the Department of Defense, we stop buying at some point. Like now. After years of acceleration, sales of sport-utility vehicles, or SUVs, are slowing--and the turn surely signals tougher times ahead for U.S. carmakers. How soon? That's the key question. Overall, car sales are strong, and SUV sales remain fairly brisk. Just last week Ford reported record quarterly earnings (adjusted for one-time events).

So don't expect a sudden disaster. But if you're looking for a navigation system for the industry, this is it: SUVs are the most profitable things on wheels,...

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