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Who Will Win, Ford or Toyota?

Stocks in this article: TM HMC F VLKAY

(Ford-Toyota articles updated with additional analysts' insight.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There's little doubt that Toyota (TM - Get Report) has recently found its reputation as the world's #1 automaker tarnished.

But perhaps not permanently so. Indeed, industry observers at Edmunds.com say Toyota's purchase intent has risen dramatically since the company announced a fix for its recall. (Purchase intent measures actual buyer interest reflected by pricing research, vehicle configuration and other focused steps, according to Edmunds, and strongly correlates to sales.)

"Toyota purchase intent fell from 13.9% of Edmunds.com car shoppers to 9.7% during the height of the recall frenzy," David Tompkins, an Edmunds analyst, says in a report released on Feb. 2. "Toyota purchase intent is back to 11.8% and seems to be climbing steadily."

On Feb. 12, Edmunds.com says that purchasing intent the day before was at 12.2%.

Another Edmunds analyst, Ray Zhou, says that the Toyota recall stopped sales for about 55% of the company's models, causing its monthly sales to drop below 100,000 for the first time since January 1999.

"However, we expect that Toyota will make a full recovery fairly quickly," Zhou adds. He notes that Toyota dealers may enjoy higher profit margins, as they will have less inventory to offer because of the production stoppage, while the company will likely boost demand through brand-building goodwill incentives.

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