The past few weeks have been pretty good for GM (NYSE: GM ) shareholders, as the stock has nosed up from 52-week lows. Whether or not that situation holds will depend on just how GM performs financially, and that's still completely up for grabs. But for now, the stock price has floated on other types of news, such as savings promised via plant closings and forced retirements. With GM's imminent death apparently not so imminent, shareholders are free to dream about the future.
Today's price pop comes via a pretty strange dream. Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, major minority GM holder and chief antagonist of the Detroit dinosaur, released a letter that hints at a link-up between GM and the already-hitched, across-the-world duo of Renault and Nissan (Nasdaq: NSANY ) .
The entire text of the letter that Kerkorian sent to GM CEO Rick Wagoner ran as follows:
"It is our understanding that Renault S.A. ("Renault") and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. ("Nissan") are receptive to the concept of including General Motors Corporation ("General Motors") in their partnership-alliance and purchasing from General Motors a significant minority interest in the Company.
The Renault-Nissan partnership-alliance has created tremendous engineering, manufacturing and marketing synergies, resulting in substantial benefits and cost savings to both Renault and Nissan.
We believe that participating in a global partnership-alliance with Renault and Nissan could enable General Motors to realize substantial synergies and cost savings and thereby greatly benefit the Company and enhance shareholder value. Accordingly, we urge the Board of Directors to form a committee to immediately and fully explore this opportunity together with management."
Renault and Nissan gave the old "no comment," while GM noted that, in fact, there has been no offer from the French-Japanese connection.
Even the captain of the most famous cross-Atlantic automotive hookup was skeptical. DaimlerChrysler's (NYSE: DCX ) chief, Dieter Zetsche, gave Reuters a reaction similar to mine: He wondered just how substantial this news might be. Is Kerkorian's deal for real, or is he just looking to pump up his large, losing investment? Shake up GM's management with fear of a foreign threat? Scare the rank and file with an overseas invasion?
Being a big fan of Nissan's sporty designs, as well as Renault's reliable European commuting cars -- I love those snazzy little diesels -- I hope this link-up actually comes true.
But that's the hippie Europhile consumer in me talking. The cheap investor who rides his bike amid a sea of Canyoneros thinks it makes a lot less sense. The product lines at Nissan, Renault, and GM are fairly distinct, so it's tough to imagine just how many engineering, marketing, manufacturing, or component-sourcing synergies would make their way to the bottom line. And without a payoff in sight, why would the French and Japanese put their money on the line?
The big question here: Just how firm is Kerkorian's "understanding" of the "receptiveness?" I doubt we'll have an answer to that for quite a while. And that's why investors should stay out of today's bizarre bid-up.
I believe GM's car quality has come a long way, but that hasn't stopped Toyota (NYSE: TM ) and Honda (NYSE: HMC ) from continuing to take an ever-increasing share of the big kid's lunch money. And with proposed cost savings still a long way from proven, a turnaround on the top line might not be enough to put GM on the track to profitability, Nissan-Renault linkup or no.
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Seth Jayson will take one of those nifty little GM-Renault-Nissan commuters some time in 2010, please. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.