People watch stocks for different reasons -- they're waiting for a dip in price, watching for a specific catalyst, gathering all the news and information that might affect stocks they already own, or considering a sell. Regardless of their motivation, we can better understand market sentiment by seeing who's watching what. With the Fool's free My Watchlist service, we have tens of thousands of people telling us the businesses that have, for whatever reason, piqued their interest.

With this data we have come up with a new metric, watch interest, to inform investors what stocks their peers keep tabs on in each industry. In the case of the auto components industry, watch interest is the percentage of people keeping an eye on auto components stocks in general who are specifically watching each company. By looking at what stocks people are most interested in an industry, you can get ahead of the curb by finding hot stocks that you might have otherwise overlooked. That's easy to do in the auto components industry as there are 45 publicly traded auto components stocks. The industry has been recovering from the slow down in demand for cars and the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.

The most-watched auto component stock is ...
Looking at the aggregate data, we see that Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) is above the rest in terms of watch interest and for good reason. As CAPS player psnss wrote in January:

Auto market is back on track. Pent up demand will push for greater parts throughput. Obama Administration EPA will push for reduced electricity and fossil fuel usage and JCI's HVAC systems will fill that gap nicely.

Here are the rest of the 15 most-watched companies in the industry with their watch interest along with the stocks' CAPS rating to show the sentiment of our investing community.

 

Company

Market Cap (in millions)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Watch Interest

1

Johnson Controls

$28,814

*****

16.8%

2

Fuel Systems Solutions (Nasdaq: FSYS)

$487

***

8.6%

3

Autoliv (NYSE: ALV)

$6,344

***

8.3%

4

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide (Nasdaq: QTWW)

$85

*

5.7%

5

China Automotive Systems (Nasdaq: CAAS)

$233

**

5.4%

6

Goodyear Tire & Rubber (NYSE: GT)

$4,207

**

5.0%

7

Wonder Auto Technology (Nasdaq: WATG)

$184

***

4.3%

8

BorgWarner (NYSE: BWA)

$8,781

***

4.2%

9

Ballard Power Systems (Nasdaq: BLDP)

$134

**

4.1%

10

American Axle & Manufacturing (NYSE: AXL)

$874

*

3.5%

11

Exide Technologies (Nasdaq: XIDE)

$590

****

3.4%

12

SORL Auto Parts (Nasdaq: SORL)

$89

***

3.2%

13

TRW Automotive (NYSE: TRW)

$6,902

**

2.8%

14

Gentex (NYSE: GNTX)

$4,469

****

2.8%

15

Panasonic (NYSE: PC)

$25,893

****

2.5%

Sources: Motley Fool, Motley Fool CAPS.

Whether you're keeping an eye on the industry stalwarts like Johnson Controls or are watching an up-and-comer like China Automotive Systems, it pays to watch. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock tracking service. Click here to start now.

Dan Dzombak's musings and articles he finds interesting can be found on his Twitter account: @DanDzombak.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of BorgWarner and Autoliv, as well as creating a bear put ladder position in Autoliv. 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.