2014

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ford Motor, General Motors, Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Sanofi

CHICAGO, April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC) and Sanofi (NYSE: SNY).

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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Ford Sees Lower Margins in North America

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) revealed that its operating margins from North American operations will come down to 10.0% in 2013 from 10.4% last year as it expects the lion's share of sales to generate from less-profitable small cars rather than high-margin trucks.

Ford also expects increased costs associated with higher volumes to affect margins growth. However, the automaker is banking on an improving U.S. auto market, higher market share and increased prices to boost its revenues.

In February this year, Ford topped all automakers in terms of year-over-year sales growth. The company's sales rose 9.3% to 195,310 vehicles, driven by impressive sales of its Escape SUV and Fusion sedan. Escape sales soared 29% while Fusion sales surged 28% during the month. Together, the vehicles contributed more than a quarter of the company's monthly sales.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) posted a 7.2% rise in sales to 224,314 vehicles in February, driven by strong Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks sales like January. Sales of Chevrolet Silverado leaped 29% while GMC Sierra sales jumped 25% during the month.

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) saw a disappointing 4.3% rise in sales to 166,377 vehicles compared to its earlier performance as its popular car sales dipped 3% and its less popular sport utility vehicles and truck sales rose 16% during the month. Despite higher gas prices, sales of its Prius hybrid went down 13.5%.

Another Japanese automaker, Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC) recorded a 2.0% drop in sales to 107,987 vehicles as steep declines of its CR-V crossover and Civic small car sales offset its strong 35% rise in new Accord sales. The company also attributed heavy winter storms in the Northeast for the decline in sales.

Ford, a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock, posted a robust 55.0% rise in earnings per share to 31 cents in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 20 cents in the same quarter of 2011 (all excluding special items). With this, the company has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 26 cents

Ford's fourth-quarter pre-tax profit of $1.7 billion was the highest in a decade. Meanwhile, net profit surged 55.7% to $1.2 billion from $797 million a year ago. Thanks to the impressive North American results and, to some extent, solid improvements in Asia-Pacific-Africa operations.

Ford's market share in 2012 was 15.2% in the U.S., 7.9% in Europe and 3.2% in China. In 2013, Ford expects market share in the U.S. to be higher than 2012, Europe to be almost the same as in 2012, and China to be higher than 2012.

During the year, Ford anticipates total company pre-tax operating profit to be the same as in 2012. Ford Credit is expected to report flat pre-tax operating profit compared with 2012.

Sanofi Invests in Emerging Markets

Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) recently announced that it has started constructing a new manufacturing facility in the Saigon High Tech Park – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Sanofi plans to invest approximately $75 million on this new plant. The new plant is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015.

The manufacturing facility is expected to produce pharmaceuticals and consumer healthcare products with an initial capacity of 90 million units per year, which is expandable up to 150 million units.

We believe that the manufacturing facility will help Sanofi to meet the demand in Vietnam and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets.

The signing of the deal comes close on the heels of Sanofi's collaboration with a French biopharmaceutical company, Transgene, for the production of immunotherapy products and creating of an industrial platform for the same. The platform will include Transgene's candidates.

Sanofi and Transgene will invest €10 million in the platform, which will be located at the Genzyme Polyclonals site at Lyon, Gerland. The platform will be solely owned by Sanofi.

Construction, qualification and validation of the manufacturing facility are expected to commence in the third quarter of 2013. Sanofi expects the first batch of commercial grade drugs to be available in 2015.

We note that Sanofi is looking to combat the threat of genericization hanging over many of its drugs by signing deals/making acquisitions. The company's focus on the high potential emerging markets is also impressive.

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