Hottest auto stock in Asia surges 81% thanks to focus on Asean

TOKYO – Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shares have rallied 81 per cent this year, outperforming all Asian peers, spurred by a demand revival for small cars and pickups in Southeast Asia.

While Japanese car exporters have benefitted from the yen plunging to a 24-year low, Mitsubishi Motors has also been helped by a product mix suited to emerging markets in Asia, where pent-up demand is being turned into purchases as economies reopen after the pandemic’s peak.

While half of this year’s 10 best-performers among Asian auto stocks are from Japan thanks to the weak yen, Mitsubishi Motors’ gains are more than double those of any compatriot. Shares of Mazda Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. have climbed more than 20 per cent, though Toyota Motor Corp. has dropped.

The core markets for Mitsubishi Motors include Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, making it “less vulnerable to the US economy’s slowdown than for peers Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Mazda,” said Tatsuo Yoshida a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Mitsubishi Motors, which is in an alliance with Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, gets about a quarter of its revenue from the Asean region.

Asean markets are seen by many as bright spots in the receding global economy, with tailwinds from commodities, tourism and a high proportion of banks that are well-positioned for rising interest rates worldwide.

Car buyers in the region are being lured by prices that reflect the yen’s tumble to the weakest in more than two decades, a byproduct of the Bank of Japan having taken a diverging monetary policy to its more hawkish peers in the US and elsewhere. BLOOMBERG