The Q2 earnings season saw a raft of mixed results spanning the good, bad and ugly; thus creating a sense of disturbance. Even historically defensive sectors such as banking and oil/gas providing lesser safe-harbours than the case in the past, given high P/Es, low yields and their own PESTEL headwinds. All adding to the 'risk-on, risk-off volatility in the search for value.
Contradictory Signs -
So an an unsure and erratic milieu providing a reduced rational structure for general interpretation. Created by the contrasting “pro and con” results of now globally inter-connected continental macro-level surveys, together with at the micro-level the affect of highly managed earnings guidance from companies (to reflect or boost release sentiment), and critically, the market reliant announcements of influential administrators and politicians. All combine to generate what was predicted and became a sideways moving market with 'snap' sentiment swings of the market – propelled by high-frequency algorithmic auto-trading – and best benefiting short-hold weekly and monthly traders who seek-out the opportunities of 'trough-point' and 'peak-point' stock dynamics, or those long-term participants slowly and cautiously building up holdings when prices (even in low P/E companies) appear attractive.
Being cyclical in nature, auto manufacturers have been forced to ride the heavy weather sentiment of the markets, perhaps more so than most given the demands of heavy capex and working capital requirements.
This now most evidently seen in North America, as the previous short-term financial markets' optimism provided by QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist and the successful lean running of large-caps and SME companies runs into the headwind of revived but still relatively anaemic consumer spending, forcing companies to remain cautious, even in the low-interest (often corporate bond secured) lending environment.
So, whilst America solved its 'capacity obesity' problem with Chapter 11, whilst there may be very real regional structural concerns in Europe, history demonstrates that it is often the case that national economies and auto companies seem to prefer to maintain what could be regarded as 'fallow' capacity (even after the 2 plant closures in Italy and Belgium): for either future job creation or factory disposal (trade-sale or otherwise), whilst awaiting the eventual future economic upswing
Mid and long-term offer a distinct value creation promise in an ever expanding worldwide market, where the BRICS & CIVETS offer so much proven potential. But given Europe's familiarity, still relatively wealthy demographic, cultural links and easily influenced governments – especially now given the economic corporate advantage - an auto-executive's mind still no doubt thinks the company that conquers a now much enlarged Europe (and critically vie against strong Japanese and S.Korean competitors) then has the political and technical lead to conquer the world.
[NB Though FIAT's Marchionne calls for cross-continent European capacity reduction, most other CEOs well recognise the liquidity firing power that GM and FIAT-Chrysler have (intrinsically backed by US foreign policy and a fiscally enabled eased “US$”) to industrially 're-acquire' Europe].
Comparative Q2 2012 Results -
The accompanying graphic (data table) provides an overview of the Q2 results for the prime 'global 11' automakers, GM, Ford, VW, BMW, Daimler, FIAT-Chrysler, Renault-Nissan, Peugeot, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai.
[NB data sourced directly from Q2 / H1 company reports. It appears that for VW, Renault-Nissan, Peugeot and Hyundai, the exact details of a weaker April, May & June sales period have been intentionally absorbed into a general H1 depiction. For the purposes of basic calculation / assumption, the Q2 figures presented are half the H1 numbers presented].
To best provide direct comparison each of the primary accounting lines is examined on a company versus company basis. This across: Revenue / Net Profit / EPS / Liquidity vs Q2 2011 standing.
GM : $37.6bn vs $39.4 (-4.6%)
Ford : $33.3bn vs $35.5bn (-6%)
VW : €47.7bn vs €38.85 (+22%)
BMW : €19.2bn vs €17.9bn (+7%)
Daimler : €28.9bn vs €26.3bn (+10%)
FIAT-Chrysler : €21.5bn vs €13.2bn (+63%)
Renault-Nissan : €10.467bn vs €10.55bn (-0.8%)
Peugeot : €14.77bn vs €15.56bn) (-5%)
Toyota : Y5,501bn vs Y3,438bn (+60%)
Honda : Y2,435.9bn vs Y1,714.5bn (+42%)
Hyundai : KRW21,052bn vs 19,162bn (+9.9%)
Of these, it is apparent that the notional 'winners' regards Revenue improvement are FIAT-Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and VW & Hyundai. But it must be noted that the Italian-American and Japanese producers come from respectively low bases, so 'easing' their improvement. Whilst the German and Korean producers maintains traction from their record high sales base.
Net Profit -
GM : $1.5bn vs $2.5bn (-40%)
Ford : $1.04bn vs $2.4bn (-56%)
VW : €4.4bn vs €3.25bn (+35%)
BMW : €1.28bn vs €1.77bn (-27.7%)
Daimler : €1.51bn vs €1.7bn (-11.17%)
FIAT-Chrysler : €358m vs €1.2bn (-70%)
Renault–Nissan : €393m vs €626.5m (-37%)
Peugeot : €-409.5m vs €403m (-200%)
Toyota : Y290.3bn vs Y1.1bn (+26,300%)
Honda : Y131.7bn vs Y31.7bn (+415%)
Hyundai : KRW2,550bn vs 2,310bn (+10.4%)
The 'winners' here are Toyota (by a massive degree), Honda, VW and Hyundai. The above remarks pertaining to the Japanese industrial / commercial 'bounce-back' are reflected here at the bottom line. This much contrasted the American duo's foundering as profitability is surpressed to build-up cash reserves and fund capex projects.
GM : $0.90 vs $1.54 (-41%)
Ford : $0.26 vs $0.59 (-56%)
VW : €12.05 vs €10.04 (+20%)
BMW : €1.94 vs €2.07 (-6.3%)
Daimler : €1.34 vs €1.51(-11%)
FIAT-Chrysler :not stated
Renault-Nissan : €1.37 vs €2.24 (-39%)
Peugeot : €-1.365 vs €1.77 (-177%)
Toyota : Y91.67 vs Y0.37 (+24,770%)
Honda :Y73.09 vs Y17.64 (+414%)
Hyundai : not stated
Correlated to the outcome of the previous section, the 'winners' here are Toyota (by that massive leap), Honda, VW (and expectantly Hyundai, though not indicated by the company). Once again the reduced profitability of the Detroit 2 is viewed through still positive but much reduced EPS.
Operating Cash Flow -
GM : $3.8bn vs $5.0bn (-24%)
Ford : $0.8bn vs $2.3bn (-65.2%)
VW : €3.35bn vs €4.2bn (-20%)
BMW : €1.84bn vs €3.0bn (-39%)
Daimler : not stated
FIAT-Chrysler :€1.08bn vs €0.52bn (+300%)
Renault-Nissan : €541m vs €767m (-29.5%)
Peugeot : not stated
Toyota : Y702bn vs Y316bn (+222%)
Honda : Y737.43bn vs Y1,070bn (-31%)
Hyundai : not stated
Here FIAT-Chrysler and Toyota win by very wide margins, with Ford seen to suffer most.
Free Cash Flow -
GM : $1.7bn vs $3.8bn (-56%)
Ford : $1.77bn vs $0.46bn (+384%) estimated
VW : €0.995bn vs E1.46bn (-31.5%)
BMW : €853m
Daimler : €1.0bn vs €1.13bn (-11.51%)
FIAT-Chrysler : €0.39bn vs €0.11bn (+354%) estimated
Renault-Nissan : €-100m vs €60.5m (-265%)
Peugeot : €224.5m
Toyota : Y49bn vs 51bn (-3.9%)
Honda : Y64.36bn vs Y339.44bn (-81%)
Hyundai : not stated
The apparent 'winners' here seen to be Ford (in stark contrast to its OCF) and FIAT-Chrysler with more than a tripling of FCF YoY. These figures are only simplistic guestimates, but may have been officially unreleased to build-up greater 'rolled-up' FCF figures for a later Q3/Q4 release, given the power of the indicator to tempt investors. Suffering most is Renault (and presumably Peugeot) given their greatest exposure to Eurozone market troubles.
GM : $38.5bn
Ford : $33.9bn
VW : €14.9bn vs €17bn (-14%) [$18.47bn]
BMW : €8.01bn vs €7.46bn (+7.5%) [$9.93bn]
Daimler : €12.09bn vs €9.84bn (+23%) [$15bn]
FIAT-Chrysler : €22.7bn vs €21.4bn (+6.5%) [$28.14bn].
Renault-Nissan : E11.1bn [$13.76bn]
Peugeot : €12.08bn [$15bn]
Toyota : Y1,728bn vs Y2,132bn (-19%) [$17.8bn]
Honda : Y1,247.1bn (cash & equiv) [$12.85bn].
Hyundai : KRW17,180bn (cash & equiv) [$15.15bn]
And finally, the importance of 'fiscal fire-power' during this transformative period is seen by the large reserves build-up by GM, Ford and FIAT-Chrysler, with VW and Toyota holding near equal value lower sums and Daimler, Hyundai and Peugeot close behind, with Renault-Nissan, Honda and BMW on lower levels.
Automakers' Positioning -
By the overtly simplistic indications of a) Revenue Increase, b) Net Profit, c) Earnings Per Share, d) Operating Cash Flow, e) Free Cash Flow and f) Liquidity, we see the dominant players per measure:
a) Revenue Increase: FIAT-Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, VW, Hyundai
b) Net Profit: Toyota, Honda, VW, Hyundai
c) EPS : Toyota, Honda, VW, (Hyundai assumed)
d) OCF : FIAT- Chrysler, Toyota
e) FCF: Ford, FIAT-Chrysler (estimated results)
f) Liquidity : GM, Ford, FIAT-Chrysler, VW, Toyota
Consistency goes to Toyota (5 of 6 placings), followed by VW & FIAT-Chrysler (4 of 6 placings), then Honda & Hyundai (3 of 6 placings), Ford (2 of 6 placings), GM (1 of 6 placings).
Unsurprisingly Renault-Nissan and Peugeot lagged heavily, but also too seemingly have BMW and Daimler failed to make a showing. This investment-auto-motives believes because of the BoD's operational consistency which provides slower but ongoing organic value creation, instead of the 'falter and rebound' growth opportunity seen by the aforementioned identified players.
Automaker's Context -
It became apparent some time ago that the dire effects of the credit crunch would most impact western mass market players with heavy exposure to their domestic markets, hence the experiences of previously GM and Chrysler, and now PSA, Renault and FIAT; with the premium/quality type producers with high export market exposure, demonstrated by BMW destined to fair far better, with the 'diversified premium' of Volkswagen and Daimler arguably on even more solid ground spanning B2C and B2C customers. The 'intermediates' of Toyota, Honda and Nissan were destined to sit between the two former groups, but themselves required internal re-structuring to remain competitive; this latterly ironically achieved as a consequence of the 'Great Eastern Japanese' disaster and the Thailand floods.
[NB The recent pan-Indian electrical power failures may induce a far smaller but significant force for auto-producer restructuring as companies seek to relocate to regions of assured power; aswell as obviously providing consulting and installation opportunities for major infrastructure players such as GE, Siemens etc]
As illustrated previously, perhaps the very obvious automotive beneficiary of the global downturn has been the strategically perfectly positioned Hyundai Motor Co with a balanced global sales and production foot-print and ever more attractive and price-compelling vehicle range. Whilst inside western markets for decades, its prime focus over the last decade was in BRIC and EM countries offering small cars and small trucks, then concentrating upon globally credible passenger vehicles as consumer expectations of the 'old-industrial' and 'emerged-industrial' countries began to merge.
However, as seen with the previous focus on Ford, western producers are positioned in course to return to strength if able to set their own paths: either through manifest strategic re-alignment of the intra-national business model (Ford), or through the deployment of large cash reserves via M&A and alliances (GM) or seeking - at smaller level – a combination of both (FIAT-Chrysler). The lessons learned within the US no doubt sought to be deployed by European companies / divisions.
The German corporates have remained strong thanks largely to the success born from the western boom years, their EM exporting models of 'visible' and 'invisible' products and services, the cautious retention of those cash cushions up until recently with now impressive CapEx programmes. These designed to secure industrial dominance domestically...in EM regions...and by virtue of the German 'home improvement plan' re-emphisising its historic role as Europe's industrial hub with powerful spokes now eminating north, west, south and east. .
So beneath the very apparent surface of the 2008-10 financial crisis, the EU sovereign debt and banking crisis, the natural disasters in Asia, the spectre of a technical or real double-dip recession, and so 'in turn' the outcome of heavily afflicted stock prices amongst many 'consumer cyclicals'... the necessary process of business re-invention has been under-way to re-position individual companies and the sector at large into the second decade of the 21st century and beyond.