The wild response to the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program may have helped some 700,000 drivers breathe in that ephemeral new-car smell, but this Fool's nose detects the sweeter scent of long-term opportunity.
The program's resounding success certainly culled some older vehicles from the roads and converted them to scrap, but I believe that a cultural shift into thrift will challenge the new-car sales market for years to come. New-car retailer AutoNation
On the other end of the spectrum, scrappy steelmaker Schnitzer Steel
Geographically focused near the company's existing scrap operations, the acquired operations will enhance Schnitzer's vertical integration between its auto-parts and metal-recycling business segments. Furthermore, I believe that shifting focus from retail to self-service operations will allow to company to benefit from an emerging micro-trend within the shift to thrift.
Cost deferment hits households
When penny-pinching households finally address those deferred auto repairs, I believe that lower-cost, self-service facilities such as those acquired by Schnitzer Steel will find themselves bustling with activity. Schnitzer's auto-parts segment still represents a small portion of the company's overall business, and prospective investors are encouraged to focus research upon the broader metal-recycling market and companies such as Sims Metal Management
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Fool contributor Christopher Barker can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets, but he owns no shares in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy has no moving parts.