Toyota may have had its recall problems but some stock market pundits see the carmaker as a real investment opportunity.
Investors are saying that Toyota’s stock is a bargain and poised for gains as the furore over recent recalls involving its top-selling models and criticism of its Lexus GX460 SUV.
They say the carmaker’s automaker’s sales and profit could quickly recover after it recalled more than 8m vehicles worldwide and, earlier this week, a US consumer magazine described the Lexus SUV as a “safety risk”.
Toyota lost US$35bn in stock value from 19 January to 23 February but has since recovered $15bn of its market capitalisation, Bloomberg News said. Meanwhile its US sales rose 41% in March after it introduced interest-free loans and discounts.
According to a Bloomberg survey, analysts are optimistic about Toyota, saying the carmaker’s troubles will soon be forgotten.
However, there is concern that Toyota’s much-valued quality reputation may be damaged, hurting sales and profit.
This week Consumer Reports, an influential, non-profit magazine, warned drivers that the 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV could roll over if a driver released the accelerator during a sharp turn. Toyota has halted production and sales of the model in the US, Russia and the Middle East while its engineers investigate the claim.
Toyota already faces costs from at least 177 consumer and shareholder lawsuits seeking class-action status and 57 individual suits claiming personal injuries or deaths caused by sudden acceleration in other high-selling models.
Analysts believe the company will maintain discounts in the US for months to keep attracting customers. As well as interest-free loans, it was offering incentives worth US$2,568 per vehicle last month, up $1,003 from a year earlier, according to Edmunds.com.
Toyota’s North American sales operation said no decision had yet been made on whether current offers will be extended through May, adding that the focus will likely be on low-cost financing rather than cash rebates.
Extended use of discounts would erode residual values, according to Edmunds.com.