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March auto sales for China were released this week, with General Motors Company (GM - Free Report) seeing higher sales while that of Ford Motor Company (F - Free Report) declined. General Motors is also set to launch its first hands-free vehicle later this year.

Rumors of Tesla, Inc. (TSLA - Free Report) constructing a factory in China surfaced, which the company subsequently denied. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp Ltd (TM - Free Report) announced a $1.33 billion investment in its Kentucky plant.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (HMC - Free Report) showcased two variations of its currently hydrogen-powered Clarity lineup—hybrid and fully electric.

(Read the previous roundup here: Auto Stock Roundup for Apr 6, 2017)

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

1. Ford and General Motors reported their respective China sales figures for Mar 2017. General Motors and its joint ventures in China reported a 16% year-over-year increase in deliveries to a record 345,448 vehicles. Meanwhile, Ford’s sales in China, except Lincoln, decreased 21% year over year to 90,457 units during the period.

2. Rumors of Tesla’s plan to independently fund and construct a factory in China surfaced. Southern Metropolis Daily, a local Guangdong province newspaper, claimed this (citing sources) and stated that the company has already approved a site for the facility and is awaiting regulatory approval from the local government. Having a manufacturing unit in China, its second largest market by revenues in 2016, would help Tesla reduce its border tax. However, the company denied the report, as told to CNBC. (Read More: Is a Factory Part of Tesla's Expansion Plan in China?)

Tesla has also been criticized by some of the company’s investors for not having enough independent board members. Officially, Tesla stated that the company will add new members soon. Meanwhile, CEO, Elon Musk replied in the affirmative on twitter when asked if two members would be added.

Tesla carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

3. Amid falling U.S. auto sales as well as used car prices, General Motors stuck to its previously provided profit forecast. The company expects pretax profits for 2017 within $6–$6.50 per share compared with $6.12 recorded in 2016. While the sale of its European business is expected to cut losses, the company also expects U.S. sales to rebound later in the year.

General Motors is focused on autonomous vehicles, with the hands-free 2018 Cadillac CT6 set to debut later this year. The company expects expenses of $150 million per quarter on research and development of autonomous vehicles in 2017 and 2018. Moreover, 1,163 employees will be added to the company’s autonomous vehicle unit in San Francisco.

General Motors also carries a Zacks Rank #3.

4. Toyota announced its decision to invest $1.33 billion, the highest investment by any automaker, in Kentucky. The investment will enable Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. to become the first plant in North America to commence vehicles manufacturing using Toyota New Global Architecture.

Toyotahas plans to invest about $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, including this investment. (Read More: Toyota to Invest $1.33 Billion in Kentucky Plant)

Toyotacarries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

5. Honda showcased two new variations to its hydrogen-powered Clarity lineup, offering drivers more alternatives to gas-powered cars. While the company believes hydrogen vehicles are the best alternatives in the long run, the new plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions are expected to receive a wider adoption currently. Honda expects to sell a total of 75,000 Clarity models in the first four model years.

Honda carries a Zacks Rank #3.

Performance

Auto stocks recorded a largely negative performance over the last week. Honda lost the most among the stocks listed below, while Harley-Davidson, Inc. (HOG - Free Report) was the largest gainer.

Over the last six months, Tesla has been the biggest gainer, while AutoZone, Inc. (AZO - Free Report) was the worst performer.

Company

Last 1-Week Period

Last 6 Months

GM

-0.2%

+7.7%

F

-0.3%

-5.7%

TSLA

+0.6%

+48.2%

TM

-0.7%

-8.1%

HMC

-1.6%

-2.3%

HOG

+1.7%

+21.1%

AAP

-0.7%

-3.4%

AZO

-1.4%

-9.7%

Auto-Tires-Trucks Sector 5YR % Return

 

Auto-Tires-Trucks Sector 5YR % Return

 

What’s Next in the Auto Space?

Some companies are expected to release European auto sales for March next week.

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