European auto industry stocks outperformed many leading stock market benchmarks overall during the first quarter.
Each of the three auto sectors tracked by the Automotive News Europe/PricewaterhouseCoopers Total Shareholder Value Index posted gains for the quarter that ended March 31.
As a group, European suppliers saw shareholder value rise 12.2 percent in the quarter. Shareholder value for European retailers rose 7.1 percent while the average return by automakers was more modest -- 0.2 percent -- weighed down by Fiat's lingering difficulties.
Investors chose European auto stocks for their comparative predictability. This is happening even though European new-car sales are down were 4.7 percent to 1.7 million units during the quarter.
Last year's enlargement of the European Union to 25 countries has proved to be a disappointment so far.
Sales in Poland, the largest market among the 10 newcomers, slumped 33 percent compared with Q1 2004.
A cooling of new-car sales in China also has affected automakers, but manufacturers are finding some relief in South America and Turkey, where sales are on the rise.