If there ever was an industry that screams out to American investors, "Think international," it's the auto industry. That's why I've chosen a Japanese auto company as the Best International Stock for 2007. And despite the fact that I drive a Toyota
Those of us who have said for years that American auto manufacturers were in big trouble -- and often bought Japanese cars because they're not only reasonably priced but also reliable and long-lived -- probably feel vindicated these days. The troubles that plague Ford
You can't ignore the demand for Honda's Civic and Accord, not to mention the Acura line. Although the Toyota Prius is the first vehicle that jumps to mind when one considers hybrids, Honda also offers hybrid Civics and Accords that merge the best of both worlds when it comes to trusted brands and ultra fuel efficiency, which surely will continue to be important to consumers, as well as the "green" element.
Bottom line: Honda has fantastic branding. It has a great reputation for being nearly indestructible, and I know plenty of die-hard Honda drivers; I'd be shocked if they ever bought another brand. And Honda has introduced other vehicles that seem to be getting warm receptions, like the Element and the CR-V.
On Tuesday, the Insurance Industry for Highway Safety issued its second annual list of safest vehicles. Honda and Fuji Heavy Industries' Subaru tied to top the list, with three models each making the list. U.S. cars didn't make the cut at all, with the exception of two Swedish brands bought by U.S. companies -- Volvo and Saab.
Honda does the locomotion in many more ways: It makes watercraft, motorcycles, snowblowers, scooters, and even jets. Honda's got some futuristic appeal, too. It's dabbling in robotics, like a chap called ASIMO, which Honda bills as "the world's most advanced humanoid robot."
Unlike U.S. counterparts, Honda has been operating profitably and with enviable manufacturing efficiency despite the difficult environment. In fact, Honda recently increased its financial outlook for the coming fiscal year. Furthermore, any sweep of news about Honda shows you that the company continues to innovate -- consider its research on biofuels -- and it has many different paths to growth. That's why I suspect Honda's a great international stock for 2007 and beyond.
A quick check of our Motley Fool CAPS community intelligence database also shows a remarkably enthusiastic response to Honda, so I'm not alone. For example, of the 339 players who have rated Honda, a mere three of those believe it will underperform the market.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Honda ends up being the best international stock of 2007, with its trustworthy products and customer-centric vision -- after all, a company doesn't get diehard loyalists any other way. We shall see what transpires next year, but in the meantime, I've rated Honda an "outperform" in CAPS. If you agree with me, click here to make your opinion known in CAPS, and if you think I'm totally off the mark, rate it as an underperform. We'll tally the results and announce the Best International Stock for 2007 next week.
Go here for the complete list of contenders in our CAPS international-stock tournament.