How is this for a sign of the times? For the first time in more than three decades, the stock price of Honda last week surpassed that of Toyota, long esteemed as the bluest of Japanese blue chips.
Honda rose 1.9 percent to close at ¥2,859 (about $34) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday, Sept. 2, while its Japanese rival slipped 0.3 percent to ¥2,850, or about a dime lower.
Honda's leapfrog ahead of Toyota, the world's biggest automaker by sales and market capitalization, grabbed headlines across Japan -- even though market gyrations on Friday put Toyota back on top.
Reports said it was the first time their stock prices crossed lines since 1976, excluding a two-for-one split at Honda in 2006. Pundits speculated about the reasons:
-- Shareholders were dumping Toyota because of lingering concerns about its recall crisis.
-- Toyota, with its reliance on exports from Japan, is more vulnerable than Honda to the yen's current surge against the dollar.
-- Honda has better growth prospects in emerging markets, where it sells not only popular small cars but motorcycles, too.