Inchcape shares continue to outperform competitors. The stock returned 21.6 percent in the fourth quarter, well above average. Shares rose 54.6 percent from a year earlier.
The company benefits from its exposure to fast-growing markets such as Hong Kong. Inchcape also has more luxury franchises than other retailers and, despite strong growth, it doesnt have any debt.
Vardys strategy questioned
Reg Vardy was second in the quarter, with a 14.3 percent return. Its share price rose following its mid-December interim results, helping Vardy end the year on a positive note. However, analysts question the groups policy of buying underperforming dealerships cheaply with the aim of turning them around. The trouble is that in difficult markets where demand is weakening, the turnaround can take time, said Pricewaterhouse-Coopers Philip Wylie.
Shareholders in Stern Groep saw the value of their investment drop 12.2 percent in Q4. PwCs analysts say this reflects uncertainty over Sterns planned delisting of its shares.
Meanwhile, PwCs Wylie noted a move by Tony Bramall and former CD Bramall CEO Peter Jones to team up again. They have bought three Audi dealerships and are looking to acquire a dozen businesses over the next few years.
Next to big players, there is room for experienced operators to take a part in the sectors reshaping, Wylie said.