TOKYO - The Tokyo stock market is welcoming the appointment of Mark Fields as Mazda Motor Corp. president with jeers, not cheers.
On Friday, Jan. 14, Mazda's stock price closed in Tokyo at 419, about $3.95 a share, down 26.5 percent from its close on Dec. 15, the day Fields was named to replace James Miller as Mazda president. The sudden transition - Miller's departure was attributed to health reasons - was unexpected.
In the same period, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index has risen 4 percent.
Mazda's stock price ranged between 478 and 605 yen from Sept. 7 until it began its steep slide Dec. 16 - the day after the Fields announcement - and fell as low as 410 on Jan. 5. The drop put the stock's performance relative to the Nikkei 225 in negative territory for the first time since April 28, 1998.
Mazda's stock price also is running counter to the other auto stocks. It has retreated compared with Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Of course, Fields' appointment likely is not the only reason for the decline. Mazda recently posted its first group profit in six years, but the company's turnaround is by no means complete.
'Mazda is like a patient who just got out of the intensive care unit,' said Christopher Richter, Tokyo-based auto analyst for HSBC Securities. 'Its health is still very tentative.'
Howard Smith, Tokyo-based auto analyst for ING Baring Securities (Japan) Ltd., said Mazda 'looked almost too good to be true' before the stock price decline.
The price drop may represent the market's asking, 'does this imply deeper problems' either at Mazda itself or in the Ford Motor Co.-Mazda relationship, he said.