Great News for Detroit's Big Three

It's been a busy couple weeks for Detroit automakers Ford and General Motors . Both beat estimates across the board on their first-quarter-earnings reports and gave investors hope that the losses in Europe could be subsiding. Both companies also reported sales figures for the month of April, and buried in the numbers is some great news. Let's take a look at some details between sales and market share and see which automaker is gaining ground.

Sales and market share
Let's start by using total sales year to date and compare it to last year's. Out of the 20 top vehicles only eight had declines in sales from the previous year, while the rest had significant gains. Out of those eight models with sales declines, only two were domestic. Out of the 12 models with sales gains, eight were domestic. Here's a glimpse at the biggest movers by percentage.

All graphs by author; data from The Wall Street Journal.

Ford's newer models have been a hit with critics and consumers alike and it's starting to show with a nice surge in sales. The percentage change is nice to view, but it's important to keep it in perspective with overall sales numbers. Toyota Camry declined compared to last year but still out sells any model in its segment - and is third overall. Here's a look at the 10 top vehicles in total year-to-date sales.

The two top spots go to the highly profitable F-Series and Silverado trucks - welcome news for investors. Ford also has the most models in the top 10 with three, followed by Toyota and Honda , each with two. If you're a Ford investor, things are continuing to look bright this year with nice improvements over last year. With those numbers we should expect Ford to take some market share - let's take a look.

Ford had the best jump in market share but still trails GM. Overall, Detroit's Big Three each made improvements on market share versus last year, while Toyota and Honda had slight declines. In fact, the Big Three are practically the only automakers to have any market share gains, as Nissan, Mazda, and Kia all posted losses while Hyundai remained flat.

Bottom line
These graphs point toward Ford doing extremely well, which is a great because Ford derives most of its profits from North America. It's far behind rivals in creating profits in emerging markets, but it's gaining ground. Ford's popular Fusion and Escape are making debuts in Europe and China shortly and it hopes to export similar strategy and success from the U.S. abroad. We're starting to see - for the first time in a while - market share in the U.S. swing back toward Detroit's big automakers. That's a huge deal; it's great news for investors who jumped on board in time to watch Ford and GM rebound.

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Motley Fool contributor Daniel Miller owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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