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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Edmunds.com analysts expect sales efforts in conjunction with Presidents' Day should push new-vehicle sales figures for February to a much stronger level than those recorded during the same month last year.

But the site's apprehension stems from questioning the importance that one particular weekend could have on the entire month's sales performance.

Edmunds.com expects total sales, including fleets, to come in at 785,000 units. The site noted that the total marks a 14.2-percent increase from the February 2009 total, as well as a 12.9-percent uplift from the opening month of 2010.

Continuing on, Edmunds.com analysts predict that February's Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate will be 10.6 million, down from 10.7 million in January of this year.

They also mentioned that this February had 24 selling days, the same number of selling days as February of last year.

"February sales figures looked encouraging, up from January of this year and from an abysmal performance last February. A more nuanced view, however, raises some issues — the most important being that based on sales of recent months, February sales should have been higher," explained Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at Edmunds.com.

"We would estimate in the range of 11.3 to 11.7 million SAAR," Caldwell pointed out.

"Sales over the Presidents' Day weekend were robust — indicating that deal-seekers are still buying, but one strong weekend further illustrates how lackluster sales were in the remainder of the month," she continued.

Caldwell then articulated some reasons for her assessment.

"Some of this can be explained by supply constraints for hot models, severe weather and/or by sales disruptions linked to Toyota's recent troubles," she contended.

"Less easy to explain is the recent drop in consumer confidence and the dampening effect this has on sales," Caldwell went on to say.

"We will have to wait until March to see if February is an aberration or a fundamental sign that the recovery in sales will be more subdued than hoped," she interjected.

Site analysts also calculated that the combined monthly U.S. market share for domestic manufacturers Chrysler, Ford and General Motors is estimated to be 44.5 percent in February. They said that figure is down both from February 2009 (45.2 percent) as well as January of this year (45.6 percent).

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst of Edmunds' AutoObserver.com, was most struck about how Toyota is faring with the cloud of ongoing recalls and negative publicity.

"Toyota's market share will be the lowest since July 2005, and is expected to drop to 12.6 percent — but many of its Asian competitors benefited from its recall woes, Krebs pointed out.

"Hyundai and Nissan are predicted to have their highest U.S. market share," she indicated. 

Edmunds.com February 2010 New-Car Sales Market Forecast: 

 Maker  Total Predicted
 Units Sold
 Change from
 February 2009
 Change from
 January 2010
 Chrysler  67,000  – 20.2  + 18.2
 Ford  136,000  + 35.3  + 18.9
 General Motors  147,000  + 16.2  + 0.2
 Honda  89,000  + 21.4  + 31.6
 Hyundai  66,000  + 24.7  + 24.9
 Nissan  75,000  + 38.1  + 19.7
 Toyota  99,000  – 10.1  – 0.2

 Market Share
February 2009
Market Share
 January 2010
 Market Share
 Chrysler  8.5  12.2  8.1
 Ford  17.3  14.6  16.5
 General Motors  18.7  18.4  21.0
 Honda  11.3  10.4  9.7
 Hyundai  8.4  7.7  7.6
 Nissan  9.5  7.9  9.0
 Toyota  12.6  15.9  14.2