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Investing in AutoNation, Ford, GM and Tesla

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Last week, at the 2014 University of Tampa Fellows Forum, AutoNation (AN) Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson gave an upbeat assessment of the automobile industry.

AutoNation sells and services more than 300 models from more than 30 brands of cars and trucks, both new and used, at more than 225 locations from coast to coast. Last week it announced total retail sales of new vehicles in February rose 4% year over year to 21,987 vehicles. On Jan. 30 AutoNation reported earnings per share of 83 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates by 6 cents.

Jackson credited a vibrant vehicle financing program for a healthy auto industry, saying car payments are made before credit card payments and mortgage payments. This fact is a key factor in a resurgent automobile industry.

He talked about the ingenious technologies developed by Tesla Motors (TSLA) in its luxury electric automobiles but thinks Ford Motor's (F) aluminum version of the Ford F150 pickup truck is more exciting advanced technology because the truck would weigh 800 pounds less than the steel version.

Of course, AutoNation has a big advantage over the other dealerships -- it doesn't make the vehicles it sells. So let's look at the companies. A detailed technical analysis chart about these stocks follows.

AutoNation ($53.65, up 8% YTD): The stock set an all-time intraday high at $54.49 on Sept. 20, then declined to its 2014 intraday low at $46.38 on Jan. 17 when it was below its 200-day simple moving average at $48.67 for four days. The stock challenged the all-time high on March 7. The weekly chart is positive but overbought with its five-week modified moving average at $51.69 and the 200-week SMA at $37.83. Semiannual and quarterly value levels are $51.18 and $50.16 with semiannual and monthly risky levels at $56.17 and $56.26.

Ford Motor ($15.51, up 0.5% YTD): The stock set a multiyear intraday high at $18.02 on Oct. 24, then traded to a 2014 low at $14.40 on Feb. 3, and has been below its 200-day SMA at $16.34 since Jan. 24. The weekly chart shifts to positive given a close this week above its five-week MMA at $15.52 with its 200-week SMA at $13.31. Weekly and annual value levels are $14.89 and $14.03 with quarterly and semiannual risky levels at $16.68 and $16.73.

General Motors (GM) ($37.09, down 9.2% YTD): The stock set its post-bankruptcy intraday high at $41.85 on Dec. 17 and Dec. 26, then traded down to its 2014 intraday low at $34.36 on Feb. 6. The stock is now just above its 200-day SMA at $36.53. The weekly chart shifts to positive given a close this week above its five-week MMA at $37.20. Semiannual and weekly value levels at $36.09 and $33.71 with monthly and quarterly risky levels at $40.23 and $41.02.

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