Despite cutbacks in production, inventory levels at General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are above seasonal averages, which may lead to lower 2005 earnings for the US big three automakers, Credit Suisse First Boston said, according to a report by Forbes Magazine.

The research firm reportedly projected year-end inventories for the three at 200,000 to 250,000 units above normal trends, on an unadjusted basis.

"We project that the light vehicle selling rate would have to exceed 18 million units in the fourth quarter and big three market share would have to improve substantially in order to bring inventory down to an appropriate level," it said, according to Forbes. "In other words, unless the selling rate accelerates or further production cuts are announced (which is unlikely, in our view) excess inventory will still be a problem heading into 2005. ... Based on that assessment, we think it is likely that further reductions to output and earnings could be on tap for 2005."

CSFB reportedly highlighted "trouble spots" in big three inventories and said trucks and SUVs contributed to excess levels in August.

"Notably, the full-size pick-ups for GM and Chrysler are both north of 80 days' supply, suggesting that further incentive actions could be on the horizon," it said, according to Forbes.

General Motors, rated at "outperform," had "uncomfortably high" inventories of full-size pickups, full-size SUVs and compact pickups. Trouble spots at Ford, rated at "neutral," included the Expedition/Navigator, Ranger and Focus. Excess vehicles at DaimlerChrysler, rated at "neutral," included the Ram Pickup, the PT Cruiser and the Durango, Forbes added.

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