By far, the company seeing the biggest U.S. sales gains in the first half of the year is automaker Toyota (NYSE:TM). The Japanese giant saw total U.S. vehicle sales of 1,046,096, which represents a 28.7% spike over last year. And though we have to keep in mind that Toyota also suffered big supply line disruptions from various disasters last year, the sales gains remain quite impressive on their own. The improved figures show that Toyota’s U.S. sales are back on track. Sales also are back on track in China.
Toyota’s sales gains in the country show that the appetite for Japanese-made vehicles is no fluke. The company, along with its two local joint-venture partners, saw June sales spike 18.6% to about 70,500 vehicles. For the first six months, the Japanese automaker sold roughly 442,500 vehicles, almost a quarter better than in 2011.
Investors also have demonstrated a healthy appetite for TM shares. The stock is up 14.7% through the first half of 2012. Along with that price appreciation, investors have collected a 1.2% dividend yield. The momentum is in Toyota’s garage here, and that makes this stock near the top of my list for stock drivers.