It was a tough third quarter for auto industry investors as falling international and softening U.S. financial markets depressed shareholder value for companies that build, supply or retail vehicles.
Values fell for all three categories of public companies in the Automotive News/PwC Shareholder Value Index during the July-September period.
U.S.-based automotive retailers fell the most, down 14.8 percent. Global parts suppliers lost 11.1 percent and global automakers dropped 8.6 percent.
The third-quarter losses caused mixed results for shareholder return on publicly owned auto stocks over a one-year period.
Suppliers were up 3.3 percent, and retail groups eked out a 0.2 percent gain. Automakers fell 3.1 percent over 12 months.
But a single bear quarter barely dented the gains all three groups accumulated over 36 months. Shareholder returns for auto retailers more than doubled over that stretch, followed by suppliers with a 69 percent return and automakers at 60.9 percent.
In a sector as widely traded as the auto industry, investors tend to anticipate financial results rather than react to them after the fact. That trait shows up in comparisons with market indexes, with auto-related stocks moving faster than the overall market.
Over the past 36 months during a global economic expansion, all three auto categories outperformed the U.S. Dow Jones Index and three European market indexes.
But as auto sales growth slowed over the past 12 months, so did auto-related stocks. However unevenly, the six major international market indexes all rose -- from 2.9 percent for the French CAC to 19.7 percent for the U.S.-based S&P 500 Index -- and investors turned to more promising sectors.
Over 12 months, auto retailers and automakers did worse than any market index, and suppliers narrowly beat only the French and German market measures.
In the third quarter, every market index outperformed auto retailers and suppliers, and only the Deutsche Borse posted a bigger loss than the automaker group.