France's Renault S.A. delivered the industry's best total shareholder return over the past three years.
Europe's top-selling brand for passenger and commercial vehicles has achieved a 97.2 percent return since the beginning of 1998. That is despite its own forecast that the brand's 2001 sales will be flat in Europe.
Just how important is America in the calculations of world equity markets?
Apparently not too important, where Renault is concerned. But it was clearly more important when it comes to the top performer of the past 12 months - Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Nissan topped the list of global automaker shareholder values with a 46.1 percent return, according to the Automotive News/PricewaterhouseCoopers Total Shareholder Return Index. In addition to exceeding its own hopeful forecast for a return to profitability in 2000, Nissan also moved in the second half of the year to invest aggressively in U.S. production.
But at the same time, Nissan remained sluggish in its Japanese home market, where it lost its No. 2 sales slot to Honda Motor Co. last year. And yet Honda's success in Japan did little to wow the equities market. Honda's total shareholder value climbed just seven-tenths of 1 percent in 2000, according to the index.
And how did the market reward the Big 3 after the great American sales boom of 2000? Partly because of fourth-quarter announcements of plant closings and slowing sales here, General Motors lost more than 28 percent of its value last year. DaimlerChrysler lost 43.2 percent. Ford Motor Co. lost 16.7 percent.
Jay Singer, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Automotive Transaction Services Group, believes Renault's global performance helped Nissan's shareholder value, and Nissan's global performance helped Renault's.
'Consider that Renault now owns 34 percent of Nissan,' Singer says. 'Nissan's profits become Renault's profits.'
Singer believes the market sees value in the new development and distribution synergies Renault and Nissan are promising. Both automakers are promising to help each enter new markets.
The market also rewarded BMW AG last year with an 8.8 percent shareholder return. That came even though BMW threw in the towel on its Rover Group acquisition early in the year, capping off $3 billion in losses.
BMW's three-year total shareholder return of 47.2 percent came in second to Renault's.