Ferrari was by far the best stock investment you could have made in the auto sector in 2019, but a closer look at GM, Ford, FCA, and Tesla tells a stunning story
- Of the five automaker stocks I cover, only Ferrari has beaten the S&P index in 2019, year-to-date.
- Surprisingly, Ford has been the No. 2 performer.
- Tesla was the big underperformer for most of the year, until Q4.
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I keep close tabs on the stocks of five publicly traded automakers: General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Tesla, and Ferrari.
Every year, I run the numbers to determine whose company's shares yielded the best payoff for investors.
In 2019, I wasn't surprised. But I did notice an incredibly interesting development with four of the five companies.
Chart by Andy Kiersz.
Starting from an equal footing and comparing GM, Ford, FCA, Tesla, and Ferrari's 2019 stock-price performance against each other, the clear winner was Ferrari.
Ferrari shares, year-to-date, have risen 70%, versus a 29% increase for the S&P. The Italian automaker has outperformed both the market and the nearest stock in my coverage by a factor of three.
But now for the interesting stuff. You might think that Tesla, which has been on a late-year tear, would have been my No. 2 stock. But Ford actually beat out Tesla, by a narrow margin.
Ford is supposed to be in a bad spot right now, spending $11 billion to restructure its business under CEO Jim Hackett. But for investors, the stock is obviously a bargain.
As for Tesla, its relative performance for much of the year was objectively awful. But of course, the carmaker's shares are hotly traded by longs and shorts, so you could have bought on some of the big dips and made a nice return during 2019.
More recently, Tesla has started to look as though it might have found some footing, and shares are finishing 2019 at record levels, above $400. Tesla now has the largest market cap of the five automakers I follow.
GM and FCA marched along together for the year, with FCA enjoying a late-2019 bump up in price when the carmaker's merger with Peugeot was announced.
GM and CEO Mary Barra have been moving along on an even financial keel, making money, money, and more money. But a 50-day strike by the UAW is likely to weigh on full-year profits.
And now for the most interesting aspect of this chart!
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