To say that the last two years have been difficult for the auto industry would be a real understatement. We watched as GM and Chrysler went bankrupt and became wards of the state, Ford mortgaged everything (right down to its blue oval), and even auto juggernaut Toyota is suffering huge recalls and plummeting sales. A number of automotive names have vanished or will soon: Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, Saab; to name a few.

My first car, back in the 70's, was a Ford Pinto. It was a bad car in so many respects that I was glad to see it go. After I got rid of it I was determined never to buy another Ford, and I never considered a visit to a Ford dealer. My distaste for the brand extended to its stock, and I ignored that as well. It seemed no surprise when the shares slipped to $1 in November of '08. After all, they made the Pinto, and it was junk.

But I wasn't paying attention, even to my own garage. When it was time for my wife to replace her 12 year old Subaru, she chose a Ford Fusion (she likes how it looks). A year later I bought a Volvo (then owned by Ford but since sold). Turns out while I was ignoring them, Ford started turning out some pretty good cars - at least good enough that we now own two of them. The worst is that I let my bad Ford experience of 35 years ago keep me from considering Ford as an investment. Had I bought Ford common stock when my wife brought home her new Ford in summer 2008 I would have roughly tripled my money as of last night's closing price.

The takeaway: consumer behavior - especially when you're the consumer - should not be ignored as you consider your investment portfolio.


(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).