UPDATE 3-Group 1 CEO says cutting vehicle orders to curb oversupply

jueves 11 de febrero de 2016 16:15 GYT

(Update share price, paragraph 9)

By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT Feb 11 (Reuters) - Group 1 Automotive Inc Chief Executive Officer Earl Hesterberg said on Thursday the auto dealer group will cut orders for new vehicles as it looks to trim excess inventory.

The excess inventory was most acute for luxury cars from BMW and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz in the oil patch of Texas and Oklahoma, Hesterberg told Reuters in an interview after the company issued fourth-quarter earnings.

"We have to order a few less vehicles until we get it lined up," he said. He did not specify how much the company expects to cut orders.

He said it generally takes three to six months to overcome excess inventory, but that timeframe may lengthen because January and February are slow auto sales months. Hesterberg said he has spoken the luxury automakers about realigning shipments so fewer cars are sent to areas hit by low energy prices.

Hesterberg said other auto dealers have joined him in telling all automakers to ship more SUVs and pickup trucks and fewer passenger cars.

Group 1 Chief Financial Officer John Rickel said in a separate interview that there were 88 days of supply of BMW models on Group 1's U.S. lots as of the end of the fourth quarter, compared with 58 days a year earlier. Mercedes-Benz supply was 61 days versus 49 days a year earlier.

Rickel said a key factor is that the two luxury brands have fewer of the SUVs that are in high demand in the U.S. market as car demand slides. He also said the strength of the U.S. dollar has led the two luxury automakers to divert shipments to the United States from China, swelling inventory.   Continuación...