There's a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace, which both poses challenges and provides opportunity for investors. But if we can correctly predict how a market will play out and who the winners will be, the potential to make money on the stock market is incredible.
As we look into 2015, we asked three of our contributors to highlight what they would like to see in the year ahead that may change their investing thesis.
Travis Hoium (more 200+ mile range electric vehicles): If electric vehicles are ever going to become mainstream, there needs to be a big advancement in driving range available to consumers. Tesla Motors has a Model S that will go nearly 300 miles, but outside of that, most EVs only go 50-100 miles on a full charge. That's not a recipe for upending conventional vehicles, especially against $2 gasoline.
The U.S. Commerce Department has implemented import tariffs in an effort to address illegal dumping and unfair pricing practices, but according to the American Steel and Iron Institute, imports still hold 30% of the U.S. market.
Domestic steelmakers Nucor and Steel Dynamics are great operators, but oversupply is keeping them from shining. Nucor -- the industry's best operator -- reported utilization rates are well below 80% of capacity, a number that an Ernst and Young report says should be closer to 85% for the industry.
There have been some improvements over the past year, but global capacity remains beyond demand. The only two things that will change this are increased demand -- hard to predict with a weak Europe and slowing Chinese growth -- or reduced manufacturing capacity.
Eventually something will give, but until then, it's going to be tough going in the steel business.
John Rosevear (Where is GM?): I'd like to see General Motors have a year where it can finally show us where it's at.
A year ago, GM had a new CEO, and its future finally looked bright -- but Mary Barra was just a few weeks into her tenure when a recall scandal erupted. That scandal dented GM's 2014 profits in a big way, and it also made it hard for investors and car shoppers to see that the General actually has a pretty good thing going.
GM's newest models are light-years beyond what it was making just a few years ago. Models like the Chevy Impala and Cadillac CTS sedans and the new midsize Chevy Colorado pickup are racking up awards and winning tough comparison tests. They're terrific cars -- and they're hitting the market just as GM's business is finally starting to come together, too.
GM has finally learned its lesson on profit-robbing discounts. Better-quality products mean it can be more restrained with incentives, and that has pushed its profit margins in North America sharply higher. A massive effort to boost its old Cadillac brand is gaining traction and should pay off big in time. Meanwhile, it's adding profitable crossover SUVs to its strong-selling lineup in China, and sweeping organizational changes (and again, better products) have its money-losing European operation on track to a profit in 2016 .
It's still fashionable in some quarters to beat on GM because of its 2009 bailout, and because of last year's recall mess that brought back tough memories of Bad Old General Motors. But under Barra's leadership, the company itself has moved far beyond those bad old days, and as a GM shareholder, what I wish for it in 2015 is a fair chance to show the world what it can do -- and, to be fair, where there's still more work to be done.
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The article 3 Things We Would Like to See in 2015 originally appeared on Fool.com.
Jason Hall owns shares of Tesla Motors. John Rosevear owns shares of General Motors. Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors, Nucor, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .
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