There's no question that these are tough times in the automotive marketplace - tough because buyer demands and preferences are changing so quickly that an automaker can find itself on the wrong side of the curve in the blink of an eye.
A big winner for Q2 is, of course, General Motors, which is starting to reap the benefits of its dramatic cost-cutting and downsizing efforts in North America. But one of this quarter's losers, Nissan (profit down 26 percent), shows that a lean, cost-effective operation isn't enough - without new, competitive products Ghosn's success story hit a major speed bump. Rick Wagoner - you've been warned.

Another winner: Honda. Its Q2 net profit rose 30 percent on the back of strong sales in North America, where its new and redesigned fuel-efficient models are just what the market wants as gasoline prices move into the $3 per gallon range. (Expect Toyota to slot into the winners category when it reports earnings next week, for the same reason.)

On the European front, a big loser Wednesday was French automaker Peugeot-Citroen, which posted its third profit shortfall warning in twelve months, as rising costs cut profit margins. Investors punished the stock, which was down over 8 percent intraday on Wednesday. French rival Renault announces earnings Thursday. Meanwhile, Italy's Fiat is solidly in the winners camp, cutting costs and increasing market share with new models.

Planning ahead to meet changing market needs has never been more difficult, and the penalty for getting it wrong has never been greater. These are interesting times...

[Sources: Reuters]

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