What: Shares of Bayerische Motoren Werke (OTC:BAMX.F), better known as luxury-auto giant BMW, fell 19% during the month of January. Shares opened the month at 94.71 euros in trading in Germany on January 4, and it closed at 76.66 euros on the last trading day of the month, January 29.
So what: BMW's shares were caught in a broad-based sell-off of auto stocks after investors became concerned that the global auto sales "cycle" may be peaking. After several years of good growth, U.S. auto sales are projected to grow only slightly from record 2015 levels.
Perhaps more significantly for BMW investors, China's economic situation is increasingly uncertain. BMW enjoys a large and profitable presence in China's luxury-car market, which has grown to huge proportions in recent years. Any developments that made a significant dent in luxury-vehicle sales in China would hit BMW hard.
Now what: BMW stands out among automakers as a carefully managed company with consistently strong profit margins and a good program of investment in advanced future technologies. It's a very solid company that should continue to play a major role in the industry for years to come -- even as new technologies threaten to "disrupt" the established auto-business model.
At current beaten-up prices, BMW is even something of a dividend star, with a yield around 4.25%. Its good margins and careful control of costs should keep that dividend going if and when major regional markets start to fall into recession. If you're looking for a good bet among auto stocks after January's sell-off, here's one that deserves a much closer look.