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Stock market: Volkswagen is an unlikely star

Best performing share price in the auto sector so far this year? Volkswagen. And the worst? Mazda. If you had been keeping an eye on industry news it is unlikely that you would have bet on those two extremes.

It was counter-intuitive that the Japanese stocks should lose out at all. But all of them did. Despite their robust performance in the car markets, their performance in the stock markets was pitiful.

Mazda was down 33%, Nissan by 23% and Toyota and Honda by 20%.

The decline in the share prices was entirely technical. Firstly the stocks ran out of yield and secondly the exchange rate against the dollar began to impact profitability.

VW’s success was also unexpected. Who would ever have guessed that Porsche would or could buy a controlling shareholding? Who would have guessed that the high level of German labour costs, the failure to profitably penetrate the US market and the loss of leadership of the Chinese market could not suppress the rise of the VW share price?

VW’s revival was all about Porsche recognising the inefficiency within the system at VW and aggressively buying shares before influencing a management change that transformed the economics.

The other players in Europe had mixed results. Peugeot and Renault were up 11% and 3% respectively thanks only to having new chief executives (Christian Streiff and Carlos Ghosn respectively).

Fiat on the other hand has become a legend. If ever there was a reason never to write off an ailing car company this is it. There has been a flow of fancied new cars, a swing back into profit and a share price rise this year of 32%.

The share price for DaimlerChrysler has discounted the fact that Daimler is jettisoning Chrysler. The shares are up 39% on the year – an identical rise to that of Porsche which of course is marked up as a result of its 30% shareholding in VW being worth more.

Chrysler’s rivals, GM and Ford, have been attracting bets that they will escape bankruptcy, and the shares to September were 8% and 5% ahead.

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