Ever heard of Toyota Industries? No, not that Toyota
What began as a company to make looms for textiles now manufactures forklifts, cars, and auto parts. The Rav4 and Yaris are both manufactured by Toyota Industries, but bear the Toyota Motors logo. Confused yet? It gets better: Toyota Motors owns 23.5% of Toyota Industries, and Toyota Industries owns 5.55% of Toyota Motors. (Japanese companies love cross-holdings.)
As one of the largest holders of Toyota Industries, mutual fund maven Marty Whitman, of Third Avenue Value, has made a killing. Whitman likes to buy stocks of companies trading below breakup value. That means that if you took the company, sold off its assets, and paid off its debt, you'd have more per share than what you invested. Whitman's been steadily adding to his position for years, which may have helped his fund average more than 16% a year since its inception in 1990.
Whitman isn't just seeking to buy undervalued companies -- he also wants to see growth from their underlying assets. In Toyota Industries' case, those assets are its big stock holding in Toyota Motors. The car division's stock is up about 150% in the last 10 years. It's on track to be the world's largest auto manufacturer in a few years, while its biggest competitor, General Motors
With Toyota Industries, a member of the Fortune Global 500, down roughly 15% from its high for the year, now might be a good time to investigate its shares. The popularity of Toyota Motors' cars worldwide won't wane any time soon, and Toyota Industries might be a good -- and inexpensive -- way to benefit from that trend.
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