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Automakers are cautiously optimistic for a 2023 rebound after worst new vehicle sales in more than a decade

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New Jeeps on display at a New York City car dealership on Oct. 5, 2021.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

DETROIT — Automakers are hopeful last year’s new vehicle sales — the worst in more than a decade — will mark a bottom for the market, at least in the near term.

Industry estimates range from 13.7 million to 13.9 million new vehicles being sold last year in the U.S., a roughly 8% to 9% decline compared with 2021 and the lowest level since 2011 when sales were recovering from the Great Recession.

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Sales varied widely by automaker, as parts and supply chain problems affected companies at different times, but most — with General Motors’ 2.5% gain as a notable exception — were down compared with 2021. Ford Motor, Hyundai and Kia all reported low single-digit declines. Toyota Motor was down 9.6%, while Stellantis, Nissan and Honda Motor posted double-digit falls of 13%, 25% and 29.4%, respectively.

But auto industry executives remain cautiously optimistic that sales will rebound in 2023, regardless of recessionary fears, rising interest rates and other economic concerns. A typical year prior to the pandemic saw more than 17 million in sales.

Toyota and GM said they expect U.S. auto sales to increase to about 15 million vehicles this year. That would be a roughly 9% increase over 2022. S&P Global Mobility and Edmunds expect 2023 new U.S. vehicle sales to be 14.8 million, while Cox Automotive’s preliminary forecast is 14.1 million.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the future. In 2023, there will be an uptick not quite as high as we would love it to be but going the right direction,” Jack Hollis, executive vice president of Toyota Motor North America, said during a briefing Wednesday. “Demand is still higher than our supply.”

The reason for the optimism is two-fold: Sales have been at or near recessionary levels due to parts and supply chain issues, plus demand has piled up from consumers and businesses after years of tight vehicle inventories during the pandemic.

Automakers have reported record or near-record results in recent years amid the tight supply of new vehicles and resilient consumer demand. They have banked on sustained pent-up demand as inventory levels normalize, hoping to avoid heavy discounts or incentives to move vehicles.

The deep discounts typical of the industry help to maintain production and increase sales, however several auto executives have vowed they will not return to such tactics at the cost of profits.

Automakers can offset underwhelming retail sales with fleet sales to governments and companies such as rental car agencies. Those bulk sales have taken a back seat to retail customers in recent years and are traditionally less profitable than those to consumers but assist in moving product.

“The fleet demand is very high, no doubt,” Hollis said, adding he believes there will be a “moderation” across the industry regarding incentives.

Charlie Chesbrough, Cox’s senior economist and senior director of industry insights, said he doesn’t believe vehicle sales will post any notable increase in 2023 — unless automakers let up on pricing to make them more affordable.

Automakers have largely passed rising commodity costs to build vehicles onto consumers, making the vehicles more expensive. That, combined with skyrocketing interest rates, higher gas prices and broad inflation, has dampened new vehicle demand.

“This is one of those rare times where we really have no idea which direction the market could go. It could easily go up or down from where we’re at right now,” Chesbrough told CNBC. “The pace over the last couple of months has been definitely pointing to a weakening market.”

Vehicle inventories improved toward the end of the year — a sign record-high vehicle prices may finally ease. And higher volumes bring the potential for a “demand destruction” scenario, where supplies begin to outpace demand.

Many on Wall Street also fear that the most profitable days for automakers may be behind them amid higher interest rates, falling used vehicle prices and a normalization of sales mix away from fully loaded models.

Chesbrough said there’s “certainly downside risk to the market” in the event of a full-blown recession. But he said the impact wouldn’t be as prevalent as it has been in the past because many lower-income and subprime borrowers, who would typically leave the new vehicle segment during a recession, have already done so because of low inventories and record-high prices.

Last year’s sales total remains an estimate because not all automakers publicly release results. Motor Intelligence reports sales were nearly 13.9 million units last year, Cox Automotive estimates sales at 13.8 million and Edmunds and Wards Intelligence estimate 13.7 million.

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From Cartel to Evangelist: The Inspiring Journey of Juan Reyes, Puerto Rico’s Entrepreneur and Author

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Juan Reyes

In the realm of entrepreneurship, few stories are as captivating and inspiring as that of Juan Reyes, a self-made entrepreneur and author hailing from Juncos, Puerto Rico. Despite being born into a low-income family, Reyes defied the odds and carved his path to success through sheer determination, hard work, and an unwavering commitment to his goals. From establishing thriving businesses to becoming a renowned author, Reyes’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the indomitable spirit of an individual driven by faith and dedication.

A Journey Born out of Necessity

Growing up in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Juan Reyes faced significant challenges stemming from his family’s financial limitations. To support himself and contribute to his family’s well-being, Reyes began working from a young age. However, he never allowed his circumstances to dampen his dreams or extinguish his ambition. Determined to change his destiny, Reyes embarked on a path that would not only uplift his own life but also inspire countless others.

A Multifaceted Entrepreneur

Reyes’s entrepreneurial acumen led him to establish several successful ventures that have made a profound impact. Among his notable accomplishments are King of Credit Repair LLC, KCL Clothing Inc, and Shalom Renovation LLC. These enterprises not only generated substantial revenue but also provided employment opportunities for others. Reyes’s astute understanding of business markets, coupled with his expertise in real estate, notary services, modeling, and preaching, contributed to his ability to transform businesses from scratch into multi-million dollar ventures.

Authorship and Beyond 

In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Juan Reyes is also a respected author. His debut book, “From the Cartel to the Evangelist,” has garnered significant attention and acclaim. This captivating literary work chronicles Reyes’s personal journey, from overcoming adversity to finding redemption and purpose through his faith. The book serves as a testament to Reyes’s resilience and unwavering determination, inspiring readers to believe in their own potential and navigate their own paths to success.

From Cartel to Evangelist

Sponsored by Christian Faith Publishing

Reyes’s literary endeavors have received a significant boost through the sponsorship of Christian Faith Publishing. This collaboration has allowed Reyes to reach a wider audience with his powerful message of transformation, faith, and the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The partnership between Reyes and Christian Faith Publishing (visit the website here) has opened doors for him to inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals seeking personal growth.

Empowering Others

Recognizing the significance of his own journey, Juan Reyes has made it his mission to give back to society and uplift others. Through speaking engagements and mentoring programs, Reyes shares his knowledge, unique ideas, and experiences with business leaders and young individuals alike. His teachings have become a beacon of hope for those who have faced similar challenges and made similar mistakes, demonstrating that even a fallen business can rise to great heights.

The Pride of Juncos, Puerto Rico

Juan Reyes remains deeply connected to his roots in Juncos, Puerto Rico. His success story has not only become a source of pride for the local community but also an inspiration for the youth in the neighborhood. Reyes’s achievements serve as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship, instilling hope and motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to strive for greatness despite their circumstances.

Conclusion

Juan Reyes’s journey from a humble upbringing in Juncos, Puerto Rico, to becoming a renowned entrepreneur and author is a testament to the triumph of resilience, determination, and faith. Through his businesses, writing, and mentorship, Reyes exemplifies the boundless potential that lies within every individual. He reminds us that with unwavering dedication and a strong belief in oneself, anyone can rise above adversity and create a life of purpose and success. Juan Reyes is an inspiration, not only to entrepreneurs but to all those who dare to dream big and overcome the odds.

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Disney CEO Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis over ‘anti-Florida’ retaliation

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Bob Iger, CEO, Disney, during CNBC interview, Feb. 9, 2023.

Randy Shropshire | CNBC

Bob Iger on Monday called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions against The Walt Disney Co. retaliatory, “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”

The feud between DeSantis and the company escalated earlier Monday, when the governor asked the state’s inspector general to determine whether the House of Mouse’s sly move to retain control over the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties is legal – and whether any of the company’s executives were involved in the scheme.

During the company’s annual shareholder meeting Monday, Disney CEO Iger addressed investor inquiries about the ongoing dispute between the company and Florida legislators. He noted that Disney has more than 75,000 employees in the state, and has created thousands of indirect jobs, as well as brings around 50 million visitors to Florida every year and is the state’s largest taxpayer

“A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation,” Iger said, apparently referring to what critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”

He added: “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”

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Iger said Disney plans to spend more than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.

“Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida,” he said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”

Last week, DeSantis’ newly appointed board of the Reedy Creek district, now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, revealed that the previous Disney-allied board signed a long-lasting agreement that drastically limits the control that can be exercised over the company and its district.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during ‘The Florida Blueprint’ event on Long Island, New York, United States on April 1, 2023. Ron DeSantis made comments on the Grand Jury’s indictment of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States in Manhattan, New York. 

Kyle Mazza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The agreement was signed on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge. DeSantis replaced all of the Disney-allied board members with five Republicans on Feb. 27. It was only then that Disney’s new binding agreement was discovered.

The agreement includes a clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain. The “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration,” the document said.

The governor’s letter calls the board’s agreement an attempt to “usurp the authority of the CFTOD board” and “nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.”

He said at the agreement also has “legal infirmities” including inadequate notice, improper delegation of authority and ethical violations.

Disney, however, has said that all of the board’s maneuvers were completely legal — the agreement was discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums, in compliance with Florida’s Sunshine law.

The development in DeSantis’ conflict with Disney marks just the latest move in one of several partisan battles being waged by the Republican governor.

DeSantis is widely believed to be laying the groundwork to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. That move is expected to come not long after the current Florida legislative session ends in early May. Polls show that DeSantis is the most competitive of the potential opponents for former President Donald Trump in a GOP primary.

The Florida governor took aim at Disney after the company publicly balked at Florida’s HB 1557 law early last year. HB 1557, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits early education teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Republican state Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last April that the bill dissolving Reedy Creek wasn’t retaliatory, but then said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”

Until recently, there had been no major public discussion about dissolving Disney’s long-established special district, which it’s occupied for 55 years, leading DeSantis’ critics to question its timing and the speed at which the governor acted against the company.

The fight between DeSantis and Disney shows no signs of slowing down. During a book tour stop in Georgia last week, DeSantis told attendees “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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WWE near deal to be sold to UFC parent Endeavor, sources say

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World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment is in advanced talks to be sold to Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group, the parent company of UFC, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as Monday. UFC and WWE are expected to form a new publicly traded company as part of the agreement, according to the people, who declined to be named due to the confidential nature of the discussions.

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Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion, they said.

Emanuel is expected to act as chief executive of both Endeavor and the new company. McMahon, likewise, is expected to be executive chairman, while Endeavor President Mark Shapiro will also work in the same role at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, while WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling business.

The development comes during the same weekend WWE hosts its flagship live event, WrestleMania, in California. The company has spent the past several months looking for a buyer. McMahon returned to the company as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up more than 33% so far this year, giving it a market value of more than $6.79 billion.

The deal will effectively end WWE’s decades-old status as a family-run business. McMahon’s father founded WWE in its original incarnation during the middle of the 20th century, and McMahon is the controlling shareholder in the company. McMahon bought the company from his father in 1982. Since then, the company has grown into a global phenomenon, spawing stars suck as Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena.

McMahon, 77, retired from the company in July following a string of revelations that he paid several women millions of dollars over the years to keep them quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, became co-CEO alongside Khan. Paul Levesque, who’s both Stephanie McMahon’s husband and the wrestler known as Triple H, took over creative duties from Vince McMahon.

When Vince McMahon came back in January, Stephanie McMahon stepped down and Khan fully assumed the CEO role. The elder McMahon recently locked in a two-year employment contract, according to a securities filing.

Khan in recent weeks has been making the media rounds to discuss the potential sale. He told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday that it’s been a robust sale process, drawing many interested buyers.

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WWE brings with it a robust media and live events business, along with its decades worth of intellectual property. The company generated $1.29 billion in revenue last year, driven mainly by its $1 billion media unit.

UFC has paid off for Endeavor. Last year, the MMA league helped Endeavor’s sports business make $1.3 billion in revenue. Endeavor’s market cap stood at about $10.53 billion as of Friday’s close. The Endeavor-WWE deal values UFC at more than $12 billion.

WWE, at least at a glance, would also fit well with the cultures at Endeavor and UFC. McMahon has a brash public persona, making him an apparently good match for Emanuel and White, who are also known for their outsized personalities.

White, like McMahon, is no stranger to scandal, either. Earlier this year, video emerged showing the UFC boss slapping his wife during a public argument at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White apologized.

Disclosure: Peacock, the streaming service owned by CNBC parent NBCUniversal, carries WWE events such as WrestleMania.

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