Solar power. Biotech. Energy storage. These areas have generated some big stock winners so far in 2009. Equally hot, however, are the publicly traded auto dealerships.
I can't blame you if you're surprised. From Saab to Chrysler to General Motors, the automaker field is littered with dead bodies. You know business is bad when Ford
So how is it possible that no less than four dealers -- Asbury Automotive Group
The independent auto dealers are definitely hurting, but it’s the manufacturers' own franchises that are shuttering dealerships most dramatically. In many cases, that leaves the independents as the last man standing in a given market. The CEO of Oregon-based Lithia Motors illustrated this process last month by pointing to a Eugene-area Jeep dealership that will close, leaving the franchise to Lithia, which already sells Chrysler and Dodge brands.
Of course, the financing of auto sales will remain challenging as long as the credit markets continue in their catatonic state, but some relief has come via the Federal Reserve's TALF program. CarMax
As to those soaring share prices, I should note that these stocks have doubled in pretty much the least graceful way possible. Sonic Automotive, the most debt-addled of the group, experienced a greater than 95% peak-to-trough plunge prior to its recent recovery. Less leveraged players like CarMax and AutoNation
When it comes to the auto dealer group, those latter two firms are the only ones that I would seriously consider for my own portfolio. Then again, my tolerance for debt is very low. Your mileage may vary.
Further auto Foolishness: