Displaying items by tag: GM
There has been a lot of gloom for the auto industry lately. With showrooms and dealerships almost completely shut, car buying has dropped off a cliff, leaving auto companies sitting on big inventories with little demand. However, early signs from China and Europe are showing that the lockdown may have led to pent up demand for cars. In one sense, there is natural pent up demand from the closure of dealerships, but more interestingly, there seems to be more demand than usual. This is because people are growingly afraid of public transportation—in some cases governments are warning against using public transit . This means people are seeking the relative safety of traveling in their own vehicles.
FINSUM: This idea of surplus demand for private vehicles because of fear of the virus makes perfect sense. Auto stocks undervalued?
Auto stocks have been wounded badly by the COVID lockdown. Car sales have plummeted as buyers do not go to dealerships, test drive etc. The future is not looking great either, as a long recession could crimp consumer spending and hit auto companies where it hurts most—on higher margin large vehicles (like SUVs). Interestingly though, a major Ford insider, COO Jim Farley, just picked up $1m of shares in the embattled company. It was his first open market purchase since at least 2007.
FINSUM: This is a really strong signal from a guy who has been with the company for some time.
The car industry is the epicenter of the current economic slowdown. The car business is both the culprit and a victim of the biggest economic downturn since the Crisis. It is not just in Germany, but also in Asia and Detroit. The industry uses so many raw materials and supplies from many adjacent industries, that the contraction in the auto sector is is dragging the whole global economy down with it. The chief executive of VW says “This trade war is really influencing the mood of the customers, and it has the chance to really disrupt the world economy … Because of the trade war, the car market [in China] is basically in a recession . . . That’s scary for us”.
FINSUM: What is curious about the car downturn is that consumers are very strong. Therefore, from our view, the weakness in the auto sector is more concerning because it could be a leading indicator.
By all accounts, the US car industry should be doing well. Vehicles sales have been good, unemployment is low, and gas is cheap. However, US car companies are closing factories and laying off workers and acting like we are in a big recession. Why? The answer is that their product mix and manufacturing capabilities are seriously out of touch with the market. In particular, they have far too much sedan manufacturing infrastructure in a market that no longer has much use for sedans. This is a huge problem because overcapacity is what doomed car companies in the last recession.
FINSUM: The good thing here is that the car companies are trying to be proactive in adjusting their facilities ahead of a broader downturn. However, closing factories and laying off workers following such a good run is getting a lot of negative political attention.
You might not think it is the right time for this stock, but Goldman Sachs says you should. The bank has just come out very positive on Ford. The automotive company has far outpaced the S&P 500 this year, but is still down 16% over the last 12 months. Goldman says that Wall Street is not appreciating how significant Ford’s recent restructuring is, as they think it can unlock “billions in trapped value” by lowering costs in the trucks division.
FINSUM: Basically, Goldman says Ford is going to see a big and sustained pop in earnings that no one sees coming. It is a nice, simple thesis and we like it.