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Auto Stock Roundup: September China Sales Up, Autonomous & EV Move On, Tesla In Focus

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Last week saw usual readiness in shift toward an electric and autonomous future by some automakers. A few auto companies also hiked quarterly dividend payment, which is usual before the beginning of the earnings season.

Monthly vehicles sales figures of China, the largest auto market in the world, have been revealed by an industry body. Vehicles sold in the mainland increased 5.7% in September, on a year-over-year basis. This is the fourth consecutive month of increase in sales. This upward trend can be attributed to robust economic growth and hefty incentives given to the buyers. However, according to the industry body, vehicles sales growth in China in 2017 might fail to meet the target of 5% set earlier.

New energy vehicles sales rose 79.1% in September, backed by strong government support and a gradual shift toward electric vehicles from traditional fuel-fossil driven cars.

(Read the previous roundup here: Auto Stock Roundup for Oct 5, 2017)

Recap of the Week's Most Important Stories

1.    General Motors Company GM aims to resolve transportation problems caused due to natural disasters, complex logistics environments and global conflicts. With this plan in place, the company is set to display an adaptable fuel-cell electric platform with autonomous ability, known as Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS).

This autonomous platform will on display at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) event, to be held from Oct 9-11, 2017. The platform could be further modified for military purposes.

SURUS features General Motors hydrotec fuel-cell system, autonomous capability and truck chassis components for delivering high-performance, zero-emission propulsion. These features will help reduce logistical burdens and maximize human safety. Other benefits include quiet and odor-free operation plus exportable power and water generation (read more: General Motors to Develop Fast Fuel-Cell Electric Platform).

Currently, General Motors carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

2.    Tesla, Inc. TSLA has deferred the unveiling of its semi-truck, Tesla Semi, to Nov 16, per an Autoblog report. This is the second time that the automaker has rescheduled the unveiling of the truck. The company's increased focus on mending production problems linked to Model 3 and raising battery production for hurricane-affected Puerto Rico, can be attributed to this delay.

Notably, the Palo Alto, CA-based automaker has fallen short of its third-quarter 2017 production target of the new Model 3 sedan. During the quarter, the company delivered 220 Model 3s and produced 260, missing the production target of 1,500. This indicates that production has not been as smooth as anticipated. Importantly, the Model 3 could catapult Tesla to become a mass market producer. However, Tesla reported that production bottlenecks came in the way of ramping-up production of Model 3 (read more: Tesla Delays Truck Unveiling to Focus on Model 3 Issues).

Currently, Tesla carries a Zacks Rank #3.

3.    Thor Industries, Inc.'s THO board members have approved a 12% hike in the quarterly cash dividend per share. The revised dividend of 37 cents will be paid on Nov 7, 2017 to shareholders of record as of Oct 24, 2017.

Prior to this, in October 2016, the company had increased quarterly dividend per common share by 10% to 33 cents. The company rewards shareholders with regular cash dividends, boosting its confidence in turn (read more: : Thor Industries Announces a 12% Hike in Quarterly Dividend).

Currently, Thor Industries sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

You can see  the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

4.    Magna International Inc. MGA announced that it has joined a consortium initiated by BMW AG and Intel Corporation to develop an autonomous and flexible vehicle platform for auto manufacturers by 2021. Notably, Intel's subsidiary Mobileye is also part of this consortium.

Having entered into the consortium as a Tier 1 technology integrator, Magna will enable automakers to customize and industrialize the domain controller to be designed for autonomous driving platform.

This alliance will help auto manufacturers split high costs for developing self-driving vehicle technology, inclusive of research and development expenses, and hiring software expertise from the outside domain (read more: Magna Joins Forces to Fortify Autonomous Vehicle Platform).

Currently, Magna International has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

5.    Much to the delight of the shareholders, Penske Automotive Group, Inc.'s PAG board members have approved a 3.1% hike in the cash dividend per share for the third quarter of 2017. The revised dividend of 33 cents will be paid on Dec 1, 2017 to shareholders of record as of Nov 10, 2017.

This marks the 26th consecutive quarter in which dividend has been increased. Prior to this, the company paid 32 cents of dividend per common share on Sep 1, 2017 for the second quarter of fiscal 2017. This persistent rise in dividend indicates undiminished confidence of the management on the diversified business model of the company (read more: Penske Automotive Announces 3.1% Hike in Dividend).

Currently, Penske Automotive a Zacks Rank #3.

Performance

In the last week, steepest increase was registered by General Motors and sharpest decline was witnessed by Advance Auto Parts AAP.

In fact, in the last six months, the steepest increase and the sharpest decline too were witnessed by General Motors and Advance Auto Parts, respectively.

Company Last Week Last 6 Months
GM 3.9% 34%
F 0.7% 10.2%
TSLA -0.1% 19.5%
TM 2.1% 17.2%
HMC 0.9% 6.1%
HOG -5.1% -24.2%
AAP -5.8% -37%
AZO -1.1% -15.1%

What's Next in the Auto Space?

The third-quarter 2017 earnings season has already started. Earnings for the auto companies will begin next week.

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Penske Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE: PAG): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
General Motors Company (NYSE: GM): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Advance Auto Parts Inc (NYSE: AAP): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Magna International, Inc. (NYSE: MGA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

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