Fidelity's Select Automotive Portfolio ( FSAVX) topped the list of consumer-goods funds in the second quarter, and the fund has tripled since its low on March 6. While this fund hasn't drawn much attention in the past several years, given performance in the industry, the fund may now present an opportunistic investment. Fund exposure to the auto industry is hard to come by, and FSAVX focuses the bulk of its portfolio on auto parts suppliers. FSAVX has a 1.47% expense ratio and a $2,500 investment minimum. The fund, launched in June, 1986, is currently headed by Michael Weaver, who took the helm in February. In a recent Barron's article, Weaver noted that "a number of factors contributed to last quarter's gain: starting from a low base; substantial government support in the U.S. and Europe; cost controls at suppliers; and stability in dealers' parts and services divisions." Still, "the ultimate driver has got to be new-car sales, and improvement in new-car sales will be driven by improvements in consumer confidence," he said. As encouraged consumers begin to swap older models for new cars, dealerships have seen inventory rush out of the lot. Richard King, the leading Buick dealer in Massachusetts's Berkshire County, noted that "June was the biggest month that we've had in a year and a half, and inventory is very low." King believes that the rush to replenish inventories could benefit auto parts suppliers. "People were holding off buying cars and fixing older models instead. Now, auto parts companies will be selling parts to manufacturers," King said.
As of May 29, Johnson Controls ( JCI) dominated more than 22% of FSAVX, helping to push the fund upward on positive earnings. JCI has benefited from business in emerging markets, providing an easy one-stop shop model that should keep the company growing and profitable. The company has made a heavy investment in lithium-ion batteries, another factor that should help JCI continue to perform in China. JCI is also currently bidding for approximately 2,700 projects worth about $800 million that are tied to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The company has identified more than $500 million in revenue tied to this legislation. In addition to JCI, FSAVX' top 10 holdings also include Autoliv ( ALV), Group 1 Automotive ( GPI), Asbury Automotive Group ( ABG), Borgwarner ( BWA), Federal Mogul, Penske Automotive Group ( PAG), Goodyear Tire & Rubber ( GT)and Harley-Davidson ( HOG). Ford Motor ( F), which is also included in FSAVX' line-up, beat analyst expectations with an impressive $2.3 billion in second-quarter profit. Ford's number becomes even more impressive when compared to the $8.67 billion in losses from the same time last year. The automotive industry should be approached with cautious optimism. Major car companies like GM, Chrysler and Ford have flirted with disaster and begun to return from the brink. The real fuel in FSAVX, however, is the profitable suppliers at the top of the roster.