Appearances can be deceiving in the auto industry.
Despite hand-wringing on all fronts, automotive companies around the world delivered big shareholder gains in the third quarter of this year, according to the latest Automotive News/PricewaterhouseCoopers Total Shareholder Return Index.
Eight out of 14 automakers delivered double-digit gains for the quarter, and only three of the group saw a decline in value. The global suppliers on the index outperformed the stock market averages of the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France. And U.S. retailers bounced back for an average 5.7 percent shareholder gain in the quarter, overcoming industry worries of sluggish sales and thinning profits.
Not surprisingly, the dire outlook at some U.S. automakers and suppliers dragged them to the bottom of the index. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors sank into negative results for the quarter.
So did Delphi Corp. and Intermet Corp., and on the one-year index, Tower Automotive Inc. and Collins & Aikman Corp., all four of which are operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Yet share price spikes in late July and August sent both Tower and Visteon Corp. to the top of the list for shareholder returns for the quarter, to overtake a crowd of strong performing Japanese and European suppliers. Visteon benefited from a May bailout plan that called for it to return 23 operations to Ford.