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A company logo is seen on a wheel in front of Mercedes-Benz A-class cars displayed in a dealership of German car manufacturer Daimler in Paris, July 30, 2013.
A company logo is seen on a wheel in front of Mercedes-Benz A-class cars displayed in a dealership of German car manufacturer Daimler in Paris, July 30, 2013.
(Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

FINANCIAL TIMES

Beamer or Benz a question for investors, too

Lex is a premium daily commentary service from the Financial Times. It helps readers make better investment decisions by highlighting key emerging risks and opportunities.

Whizzy roadster or solid sedan? Buyers of luxury cars are wooed by a mixture of performance, comfort and finish. Investors in their makers’ shares have much the same criteria. For years, BMW has outgunned German rival Daimler (which also takes in a large heavy truck business). On a five-year basis, BMW shares have generated a total return of 200 per cent; Daimler’s, just 70 per cent. At the turn of the year, though, activist shareholders pushed for a gear change at the latter group: chief executive Dieter Zetsche saw his contract renewed, but delivery was demanded. And, in 2013, it is Daimler’s shares that have moved into the fast lane, rising almost one-third. BMW’s stock has stalled.