Why GM Probably Did Better Than Ford Last Quarter

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1st Gear: Any Clue Why That Makes Sense When It Doesn't?

If you were to only read the news and then look at a stock chart of major automakers you'd probably be deeply confused. If you were to only look at the earnings of major automakers and then look at the stock prices you'd also be confused.


Ford, we're all telling people, is doing great. It's launching better cars, it seems immune to the massive recalls haunting other automakers (it's recalling tons of cars, but relatively fewer). GM is a mess. Sales are up in some places, sure, but almost none of the news sounds good.

Both GM and Ford announce third-quarter earnings this week and GM is probably going to come out of it better, according to this Freep report.

What gives? A few things.

In the United States, Ford is still riding a past high and doesn't have the increased sales that come with their new bread-and-butter F-150 on the market. People are just starting to get their new Mustangs. The costs associated with all of this are insane. It's also weaker in China, where GM is going to make up a ton of revenue, and Ford is more susceptible to problems in Latin America where, once, it was assumed there would be nice gains.


GM, on the other hand, is raking in tons of cash in China, is selling more cars in the U.S. and is somewhat shielded from Latin America and is closer to solving the European problem than either Ford or Fiat Chrysler. Granted, some of that cash is going to recall-related issues and Caddy needs to find its footing, but revenue tends to be a cure for a lot of what ails you.

So is GM a better long term bet than Ford? It depends on your views of the global economy. Also, Ford telegraphed to the market that they were expecting low revenues so their stock price sunk, whereas GM has hinted that things could be rosy.


Therefore, it's entirely possible that GM could see less of a stock gain on good news than Ford on only mediocre news. The market does not follow the same rules the rest of us do.

2nd Gear: So Don't Blame Daimler For Cashing In Tesla Stock


According to CNBC, Daimler is going to vacate the rest of its stake in Tesla and walk away with about $780 million in cash.


That's a good deal, and here's some context for why:


Though I think that overstates it a bit as there could be other factors at work here, but for a very small investment upfront Daimler has done extremely well for itself.

3rd Gear: But Hey, BYD Is Doing Better


Chinese automaker BYD still may be a little far from understanding the American market, but they're in a great position in China where recent moves towards rewarding those who make alternative cars, and, especially, rewarding those who make cars in China.

This has helped drive the stock market in Hong Kong up. Of course, it's worth pointing out that an American (Warren Buffet) owns a decent stake in the company.


It's all connected, folks.

4th Gear: Hyundai's Bland Sonata And Its Impacts


The best knock I ever heard against the Hyundai Sonata was that it was "25 feet of styling on a 15-foot car." That was Kevin McCauley.

In many ways, the new Sonata fixes that problem by making it look like...uh... every other midsize sedan out there. It's been a huge failure.


Per Reuters:


The tepid reception for the new Sonata in Hyundai's biggest market after China spells more bad news for the South Korean automaker which is battling intensifying competition and a strong local currency. Hyundai is expected to post a 9 percent fall in its third-quarter net profit when it releases its quarterly earnings on Thursday.

This will be a case study one day.

5th Gear: The Takata Mess


We're in the process of reporting and digesting all of this, so let's go with what the NYTimes has for now with how automakers are responding:

Toyota said that if replacement parts were not available, it would disable passenger-side air bags in areas of high humidity, leaving a note not to ride in the front passenger seat, a policy that safety regulators endorsed.

Normally, automakers may not disable air bags, but Mr. Friedman said that he did not see it as a problem in this instance. “It is not clear that they need permission under the law because it is a broken system,” he said.

Ryo Sakai, a spokesman for Toyota in Tokyo, said Toyota’s policy was logical, stressing that it was urging car owners not to use the front passenger seat.

He said the parts shortage was confounded by the fact that the part in question — the air bag inflater — was designed specifically to each model and using other suppliers was not an option.

“As there are no replacement parts from other suppliers available, we are working with the supplier to ready the parts as quickly as possible,” he said in an e-mail.


Clusterfuck city.

Reverse: A Texan, No Less

On October 22, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Highway Beautification Act, which attempts to limit billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising, as well as with junkyards and other unsightly roadside messes, along America's interstate highways. The act also encouraged "scenic enhancement" by funding local efforts to clean up and landscape the green spaces on either side of the roadways. "This bill will enrich our spirits and restore a small measure of our national greatness," Johnson said at the bill's signing ceremony. "Beauty belongs to all the people. And so long as I am President, what has been divinely given to nature will not be taken recklessly away by man."




Neutral: Who Would You Rather Own? GM, Ford or Tesla? Why?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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