Renault's stock has been the most-rewarding investment of all European car manufacturers during the past year and the past three years, according to the Automotive News Europe/PricewaterhouseCoopers Total Shareholder Value Index.
The French automaker achieved a 19.73 percent gain in value during the past year and gave shareholders a 50.84 percent return in value over a three-year period.
Renault benefits from the dividends of its Japanese alliance partner Nissan, which contributed 61 percent to its parent's E3.6 billion net profit in 2004. But the French automaker also has been strong. Last year Renault was Europe's top volume brand with a market share of 10.3 percent and an operating margin of 5.9 percent.
Continental was the top-performing supplier during the past year. Shareholder return jumped 88.79 percent during the period.
The tire-to-chassis systems maker has been focusing on high-tech products that manufacturers are ready to pay a premium to get -- notably safety and comfort applications. Also "it is relentlessly pushing down its cost base by utilizing low-wage countries for production," PricewaterhouseCoopers' Philip Wylie said.
As a result, Continental has been able to report above-average margins for a Tier 1 supplier -- an 8.7 percent operating margin on sales of E12.6 billion in 2004.
ElringKlinger led the group of 25 suppliers tracked by PwC with a 581.78 percent return in the last three years. ElringKlinger is the world's leading manufacturer of gaskets and seals for diesel engines.
ElringKlinger continues to benefit from Europe's sales boom in diesel-powered new cars, which are forecast to represent more than half of all new-car sales in 2005. The group has been expanding in North America and is well positioned to benefit from an increase in the use of diesel there.
Swedish retailer Bilia had a 66.20 percent gain in value in the last year and gave shareholder a 212.17 percent return over a three-year period. The company has been pursuing a policy of prudent acquisitions in Scandinavia and expanding its brand portfolio. Its latest acquisition is Danish Ford and Mazda dealer Scaniadam A/S, based in Copen-hagen. The deal will make Bilia the largest car dealer in Denmark, where car sales were up 25.4 percent to 120,484 units last year compared with 2003.