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February 17, 2020

Nissan is Now Worth Less than Subaru

Pop quiz: which Japanese carmaker you think is worth more? Nissan or Subaru? If you guessed Nissan, well you’re right…at least until last Friday.

Nissan shares fell to their lowest since 2009 leaving the company with a market capitalization of 2.17 trillion yen (USD 19.8 billion) behind not just Toyota and Honda, but now, even Suzuki and Subaru as well. Investors were spooked after the Japanese carmaker cut its full-year profit outlook and scrapped its year-end dividend payout.

All in all, Nissan’s stock is down 19 percent since the start of the year, after declining 28 percent in 2019 and 22 percent in 2018.

The culprit? Falling sales in the U.S., Europe, as well as its home market of Japan, as well as instability in its senior management since the ouster and arrest of its former Carlos Ghosn.

“Unfortunately, our business performance has worsened more than we anticipated, and there’s no letting up on investing in the future,” said CEO Makoto Uchida said at a press conference at the company’s Yokohama headquarters. “In order to invest in growth, we ended up with this dividend.”

The dividend payment he referred to is the lowest since 2011 since Nissan’s trying to free up cash for investment in next-generation technology such as EVs and autonomous driving vehicles.

Worldwide sales volumes at Nissan slid 8.4 percent to 5.18 million vehicles last year, pulling down its combined performance with Renault to third place globally after Volkswagen Group, and for the first time since 2016, Toyota.

After years of sales incentives that eroded margins and pushing businesses to buy cars, CEO Uchida said Nissan needs to rebuild its brand image and focus on appealing to retail customers. The company believes that they will once again hit their stride once they launch new and/or revitalized vehicles throughout the year.

The results are beginning to overshadow Nissan’s other big headache, the charges against Ghosn on alleged financial crimes.

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