It's easy for investors of a global automaker like Ford (NYSE: F ) to overlook smaller and still-emerging markets -- but that could be a mistake. It's difficult for smaller regions to compete with headlines about China, where Ford delivered a 53% surge in sales last month to nearly 95,000 vehicles. That said, the big story in China is how late Ford was to the market, and that's why investors would be wise to keep an eye on emerging markets and Ford's progress in getting into the action faster. Here are two markets typically overlooked by Ford investors and reasons why they matter.
Many investors overlook India's automotive market. Many may not know that it declined last year for the first time in 11 years. Most investors also don't realize that India's automotive market is the sixth-largest in the world and has a lot of potential remaining -- India is one part of Ford's Asia-Pacific region, which is expected to represent 40% of company revenues by the end of the decade, compared to 8% currently.
Last month, in India, Ford managed to sell 10,634 vehicles with its domestic wholesales and exports combined -- a 49% increase from January 2013. A big story for investors to really watch is Ford's export figures, which increased from 1,053 last January to just under 4,000 last month. The folks at the Blue Oval are strategically using India as an export hub for many regions in the Eastern Hemisphere, which could turn into a huge success story over the next decade.
In addition to its export plan, Ford has worked to build a sizable following inside the country and is aiming to attack India's most competitive segment: compact cars. That segment is expected to double in size to 2 million by 2018, and Ford's five-door Figo hatchback should help the company grow its market share and sales in India, sooner rather than later.
Success in U.K.
It's easy for investors to want to dodge the results coming out of Europe, it's quite the dismal situation and a continuous drag on profits. But when looking at specific markets, Ford's success in the U.K. is quite a different story and is often overlooked.
Last month Ford started the year off strong, beating overall market growth and increasing sales of its cars and commercial vehicles, compared to January 2013. The automaker's car sales in the U.K. were up 11% to 21,792 vehicles, and it extended its market share lead to 4.5 percentage points of share ahead of its nearest rival -- Ford's share of the market checked in at 14.1% in January.
Further, Ford took home the top two slots for best-selling vehicles last month with the Fiesta and Focus combining for more than 9,000 registrations -- double its nearest non-Ford competitor. Looking at Europe as a whole, the Fiesta sold nearly 300,000 vehicles last year which captured the top-selling small car for the second consecutive year.
While the U.K. is but one piece of the region, Ford's success with its smaller vehicles and gains in market share should give investors hope that as the company launches 25 new vehicles in Europe, over the next five years, it will help fuel a faster turnaround in one of the company's most difficult regions.
While these markets are pieces of a larger region, both give insights into the bigger picture for Ford. One story Ford investors don't want repeated is the company's late start in emerging markets. Keeping an eye on India's growth, as well as Ford's export strategy, will play a huge role in the company's success overseas. In addition to progress in India, the U.K. remains a bright spot in a dismal European story. Ford has managed to keep demand for its smaller cars strong, and 43% of the company's sales last year in Europe were all-new or significantly refreshed models -- spelling a brighter future for average transaction prices and profits as the company plans to unleash a ton of new models in the coming years.
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