Investors in all public sectors of the automotive industry broadly gained value in the first quarter as production and sales move from rebounding recovery to steady growth.
The Automotive News/PwC Shareholder Value Index showed positive group returns for automakers, suppliers and retailers for every measured period: three months, one year and three years.
"We continue to see automakers and suppliers shift from restructuring and recovery to growth," said Jeff Zaleski, PwC transaction services partner.
Despite losing some steam on investor concerns following the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami, the first quarter index finished higher for each sector, although only retailers recorded a double-digit gain.
To be sure, not all players posted a positive return. Global suppliers, for instance, were almost evenly split between gainers and losers in the first quarter, but the overall index gained 7 percent.
"There are clear differences in growth prospects and shareholder value by region," Zaleski said.
China and South Korea are driving organic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, he said. The export drive by German manufacturers is the only bright spot among major European makers.
In North America, the U.S. auto sales recovery is strong. But it is driven by increased auto financing and leasing, short-term incentives and pent-up demand and isn't supported by "significant upticks in major U.S. economic pillars" of the general economy, jobs and housing, Zaleski said. "Economic, employment and credit growth are key to increase auto sales in 2011."