Shares of European car makers all fell during early trading on Friday despite strong registrations data emerging from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or EAMA.
The monthly report showed the number of new vehicle registrations rising by 6.9% in June compared with the same period a year ago. The strongest growth was seen in Italy (+11.9%), Spain (+11.2%) and Germany (+8.3%), while new registrations were either flat or slightly lower in France and the U.K during the period.
The report also paints a positive picture for car manufacturers during the first half of 2016, when the total rate of growth in new vehicle registrations reached 9.4%. In keeping with June trends, European automotive demand was led first by Italy, and then by Spain, France, Germany and the U.K.
"In June, the European passenger car market grew strongly for its 34th consecutive month" said the report.
But the positive numbers and the upbeat tone of the report did little to lift the mood among investors in Europe's automotive manufacturers, who dumped shares of sector constituents en masse during early trading.
The car manufacturers fell in tandem with growth-sensitive sectors including mining and banking amid concerns emanating from a terrorist attack in the French city of Nice. The attack left at least 84 people dead.
Peugeot (PEUGF) was the biggest faller, with the shares falling by 1.9%, to €11.84. The stock was tracked closely by fellow middle-of-the-road manufacturers Renault (RNSDF) and Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) - Get Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. Report , whose shares fell by 1.1% and 1.4% respectively.
It is also possible that investors have been reluctant to bid for European car makers given uncertainties created by the U.K's vote to leave the European Union. In their July 12 review of the sector, analysts at Barclays warned that there would be a lag of several months before investors would be able to gauge what the effect of Britain's vote to leave has been on auto sales in Europe.
European automotive data reflects the number of new vehicle registrations in any given month, but it can be up to two months after the initial sale before vehicles are registered with authorities.
Given the high cost of automotives, new car purchases can often be one of the first things to get canned by households when economic conditions cool off.
Key trends driving enthusiasm, or the lack of it, toward car manufacturers is their relative commitment to getting ahead of the game in autonomous driving and hybrid or electric cars, according to analysts at UBS and Berenberg.
Berenberg sees Daimler (DDAIY) and BMW (BMWYY) as being the most well placed in Europe to exploit excitement over electric and autonomous vehicles, given their premium brand positioning and the high levels of investment that both have made in electric vehicles.
They rate BMW as a hold, with a price target of €90.0, which implies upside of 21% from current levels. They rate Daimler as a buy and have a price target of €80.0 attached to the stock, which implies upside of 37% from current levels.
Analysts at UBS prefer to gain exposure to the fuel efficiency, electric and autonomous cars trend by targeting supply chains. They advocate buying those who have gotten ahead of the game in developing hybrid engines, in the wake of diesel-gate.
They point toward Continental (CTTAY) and Valeo (VLEEY) in Europe, while they like BorgWamer (BWA) - Get BorgWarner Inc. Report , Lear (LEA) - Get Lear Corporation Report and Johnson Controls (JCI) - Get Johnson Controls International plc (JCI) Report in the U.S. The UBS automotives team rates all of them as a buy.