The best investment in the auto sector last year might come as a big surprise
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles rewarded investors the most during 2017.
- Ferrari was a close second.
- Tesla enjoyed an early surge but later fell back and was surpassed by FCA and Ferrari.
At Business Insider, we follow the stocks of five automakers: General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ferrari, and Tesla.
Based on the news, you might think the upstart Tesla would have turned in the best stock-market performance in 2017. Tesla, after all, surged at the beginning of the year and almost crossed the $400 barrier. Its market cap surpassed Ford's and FCA's.Tesla did well, no doubt about it, up over 40% for the year. But with a nearly 90% yearly uptick, FCA was the big winner for 2017. Ferrari was a close second, posting an 80% return. And if you take GM's 4% dividend payment into account, its 21% return looks retrospectively appealing for risk-averse investors.
Ford was the laggard, with a mere 5% improvement. But even Ford investors were rewarded with a dividend yield of more than 5%. Of the five stocks we monitor, investors might think Ford shares at $13 look attractive relative to its peers, given the potential for upside in 2018.
Investors need only seek the example of FCA of Ferrari. FCA rose from about $10 to $18 over 2017, while Ferrari rose from about $60 to north of $100.
For what it's worth, Ford changed CEOs in 2017 due to a sluggish market performance - but the carmaker posted profits every quarter and with its new hot-selling pickup trucks racked in cash. The company has a nearly $40-billion war chest on its balance sheet.
The year ahead could continue to see a strong overall stock market. For automakers, however, US sales could fall below a 17-million pace for the first time in three years. They might be able to compensate with better sales in China and Latin America, but a tougher US market could weaker stock returns.
Get the latest Ford stock price here.