VW makes comeback
One of the fourth quarter’s biggest winners among the automakers was the Volkswagen Group. Despite being embroiled in an emissions cheating scandal, VW increased its value to shareholders by 34.5 percent – the second-highest gain recorded in the quarter by any manufacturer tracked by ANE/PwC. The increase followed a 49.8 percent decline in shareholder value during Q3.
Despite estimates that its losses will be in the billions of euros, investors felt the crisis discount for VW was too extreme. Their confidence was boosted in October when VW revealed it was in discussions with the authorities in EU member states to limit legal action to that already agreed with Germany's federal motor transport authority (KBA).
The following month VW said it had fixes for 90 percent of the cars in Europe affected by the emissions scandal and that a recall process was viable "technically, financially and in terms of manpower." Then in December VW revised its estimate of the number of cars affected to as low as 36,000 units from 800,000.
While VW’s comeback was significant it was not the biggest winner of the quarter among automakers. That distinction went to Renault, which rebounded from a 31.5 percent fall in Q3 with a 44.7 percent gain in Q4. At the start of November the French automaker's share price fell on the news that the French Prime Minister had ruled out a merger with Nissan. But in the following month Renault-Nissan entered into a deal to defuse tension with French government.
The "alliance stability covenant" restricts the French government’s ability to interfere in the affairs of Renault-Nissan. In return, Nissan's stock in Renault will remain without voting rights.
Germany's BMW took third place, reversing a 19.8 percent Q3 drop with a 24.1 percent gain. Peugeot was up 20.4 percent and Daimler 20.0 percent in the latest quarter. The poorest performer was Fiat Chrysler, up just 11.3 percent. But an important reason for this is that it had been the best performer in Q3, when it confined its loss to just 11.6 percent of its value. So in reality, like the two best performers this quarter, its shareholder value is virtually back to where it was at the end of June last year.