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Auto Industry Stocks: Manufacturers and Retailers

Stocks in this article: F TM AN

MILLBURN, N.J. ( Stockpickr) -- The automobile industry has experienced a tremendous amount of trauma over the past few years, much like the housing and banking sectors. But the auto industry is beginning to turn itself around, and opportunities are presenting themselves to investors.

Last week, we discussed suppliers and retailers. In this installment, we turn to manufacturers and retailers.

Auto Manufacturers

Auto manufacturers have suffered severe blows, but in 2010 there has been a prevailing and positive buzz for an industry that was on life support as the credit crisis worsened and the recession deepened.

Ford (F) and General Motors were spotlighted at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, and Ford stole the show. Not only did Ford's Fusion Hybrid win North American Car of the Year, but the 2012 Focus was the show's shining star.

Indeed, of the remaining publically traded automobile manufacturers, Ford is the stock to own. I have been buying it in various forms since the fourth quarter of 2009, when the stock was still in the single digits. In no uncertain terms, Allan Mulally and Ford have not let me down. Unlike its two other domestic auto builders, Chrysler and General Motors, Ford avoided bankruptcy by obtaining longp-term financing before the credit crisis began and building a competitive and compelling pipeline of products. Its products have made important strides in quality and execution over the past few years and are expected to build on that success in the future.

Ford has taken a new strategic perspective on its vehicles and will be taking advantage of all of its assets, such as Ford Europe. Additionally, its monthly year-over-year sales have been generating impressive results. Ford reported sales gains of about 25% in January 2010 and 43% in February and March 2010. If that's not exciting enough, perhaps its low forward P/E ratio is.


Who Owns Ford?

The last week of March brought another important auto show to the Big Apple. But where Detroit's attention was predictably on the domestics, New York had a different flavor.

Continuing their assault on the auto world, the cars that stole the show were from import brands. Arguably, the top vehicles to make an appearance came from Toyota's (TM) youthful brand, Scion, with the tC, and from an all-new mid-size sedan with European touches from Kia, the Optima.

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