Don't Expect General Electric to Budge and Volkswagen Loses Share in U.S.

Here are two industrial companies making headlines in the market today.

May 19, 2014 at 3:00PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has struggled to find direction today and is trading up just 15 points by midafternoon. No major economic data was set for release today, and although investors have recently been less than thrilled with the U.S. economy's slowing growth prospects, Stephen Massocca offered Reuters an explanation why stocks remain attractive.

"Part of this -- driven by where rates are at and bonds continuing to rally -- when you might look for a pullback in the stock market, that is making stocks look more attractive," said Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Equity Management. "It is maybe preventing a decline of which we are a little overdue in the stock market, from a valuation perspective."

Inside the Dow, General Electric (NYSE:GE) is still seeking approval of its $17 billion bid to buy the energy business of French conglomerate Alstom. Last week, France's government gave itself the power to block deals such as this. In response, to help get the government's backing of the bid, General Electric is exploring concessions such as partnerships or sales in sectors such as nuclear power, wind turbines, and rail signaling.

Another looming hurdle in completing the deal is a possible counterbid from Siemens, which the French government has recently appeared to favor. A potential Siemens proposal could be to swap most of its rail business for Alstom's energy assets. That move would result in more of an alliance rather than General Electric's acquisition, something France's government would prefer.

While General Electric has been willing to work with Paris on terms for protecting the nation's important nuclear or energy sectors, as well as safeguarding jobs, don't expect the company to sweeten the offer just because France is playing hardball. For GE investors this deal would be expected to add bolster earnings instantly and further strengthen GE's focus on its industrial and energy businesses.

Outside of the Dow, Volkswagen (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) recently passed General Motors for the No. 2 ranking in global sales. However, the company has struggled to gain traction in the United States. That's something the German automaker hopes to change in a few years.

"The Americas are a significant cornerstone of the 2018 strategy," CEO Martin Winterkorn told Bloomberg. "We want to and we must grow there substantially and profitably."

Volkswagen's year-to-date sales in the U.S. are down 10.4% through April, with market share declining from 2.6% to 2.3%. Despite Volkswagen's challenges in the U.S., it expects to deliver more than 10 million vehicles globally in 2014.

Investors in the automotive industry would be wise to keep an eye on Volkswagen because it has the resources to become a more prominent automaker in the U.S. market and will certainly try to reverse its market share loss sooner rather than later.

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Daniel Miller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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