Among automakers, Ford Motor Co. was the hands-down winner in the race to create value for shareholders.
Ford was the auto industry's top performer as measured by total shareholder return since Jan. 1, 1997. Ford's gain over the three years was 178.7 percent.
'Ford is aggressively implementing a strategy to reinvent the 96-year-old manufacturing giant as a nimble, growth-oriented powerhouse for the 21st century,' said Jeff Sands, director of North American investment banking with PricewaterhouseCoopers Securities in Detroit.
In the past year, the automaker has acquired Volvo Cars Corp., made it part of the Premier Automotive Group and gone outside the company for talent. Ford continues to move toward a spinoff its Visteon Automotive Systems parts subsidiary.
Ford also is broadening its auto focus. It has acquired companies that operate dealerships, repair cars, offer extended warranties, run junkyards and sell auto insurance. It is a leader with its plans for the Internet.
Strong earnings, driven by its highly profitable North American light-truck business, and a rigorous cost discipline have also impressed Wall Street and investors.
Ford's performance over the three years was substantially stronger than the 64.4 percent average gain for the industry.
But Ford slipped in 1999, to No. 7. The automaker fared less well outside North America last year and has struggled with a weakened car portfolio in North America.
DaimlerChrysler AG ranked ninth out of the 10 automakers for its 1999 performance. A failure to obtain cost reductions from its merger, losses from its Smart car program, and other problems helped send company shares tumbling 30 percent from their peak of $108.50 on Jan. 6, 1999.
Toyota was the top performer in 1999. It posted a 78.8 percent gain, well above the 16.1 percent industry average. Toyota's shares surged to a record high late last year on the expectation that its investment in telecommunications will bolster Toyota's information technology systems.
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. also saw a big gain last year. It appears to stem from the hope surrounding Renault SA's purchase of a controlling stake in Nissan. The troubled Japanese automaker ranked dead last in shareholder return over the three-year period.