In part, the latest rise in shareholder value indices can be attributed to the exposure of some participants, particularly prestige brands, to markets outside Europe, such as the United States and China. But it may also be due to significant volatility between quarters and between individual companies.
The latter point was clear to see during the first three quarters of this year. In Q1, every manufacturer posted value gains, ranging from 7.0 percent for Porsche to 47.5 percent for Renault. In Q2 only one carmaker, VW, managed to avoid recording a loss in value. For the remainder, value losses ranged from 9.8 percent for Porsche to 35.8 percent for Peugeot.
But in Q3, only Peugeot stayed in negative territory, falling 20.7 percent, while BMW was unchanged. Porsche topped the list of winners, up 18.9 percent, followed by Renault, up 16.2 percent, and VW with a rise of 9.6 percent.
The most troubled of Europe's car manufacturers is also its second largest in terms of sales: PSA/Peugeot-Citroen. The French firm has been struggling to cope with a disastrous decline in sales in its key export markets of Italy, Spain, as well as weakness in its domestic market.
Heavy losses have forced the company, one of its biggest industrial employers with 100,000 workers, to announce plans to close a plant outside Paris and to shed about 10,000 jobs. More recently, following a hefty collapse in its share price, the firm has been told it will no longer be included in the French index of leading blue-chip companies – having been part of the CAC 40 since it was launched in 1987.
The other large French manufacturer, however, has fared much better. Renault's net income in the first half of 2012 was 786 million euros compared with 1.25 billion euros in the same six months of last year. Two significant factors are working in its favor. It has stronger sales outside Europe than PSA, especially in Brazil and Russia. Secondly, Renault's 43 percent stake in Nissan contributed 564 million euros to its H1 net income.
In addition to continued strong sales, the star performer in Q3, Porsche, received a boost when a German court dismissed two of four legal actions against it. These involve disgruntled shareholders seeking compensation for alleged market manipulation during the company's failed bid to takeover Volkswagen Group in 2008.
Commenting on the Q3 results for the sector, Jason Wakelam, leader of PwC UK's Automotive Transaction Services, said: “The automakers' results were strong in Q3. Indeed, there is evidence from the spate of European factory closures announced by OEMs in recent months that measures may finally be being taken to address the chronic overcapacity in the European car market. There is however a significant amount of work still to do.”