The stock market penalized Toyota and publicly held automotive dealership groups and suppliers with exposure to Toyota on Wednesday as news emerged that the U.S. government asked Toyota to halt sales of eight popular models at all Toyota dealerships.

Toyota and its dealers face the daunting prospect of being unable to sell models that made up 58% of Toyota's U.S. sales last year for an unknown period of time until the company and the U.S. government agrees on a way to prevent Toyota's accelerator pedals from sticking.

"For Toyota, basically, there is a real risk of losing potential market share, because you have companies now that are more competitive than they have been in decades," said Aaron Bragman, automotive analyst for IHS Global Insight.

Toyota's stock fell 8% or $7.01 per share on Wednesday to close at $79.77. CTS, which supplies the part believed to have caused the problem for Toyota, fell 2.4% and shares of Denso, a major Toyota supplier partly owned by Toyota, dropped 5.4%.

Bragman noted that Ford gained a full point of market share in the U.S. in 2009, and the Dearborn-based automaker is well-positioned to gain from Toyota's troubles.

John Murphy, Bank of America Merrill Lynch auto analyst, said in a report Wednesday that other brands - especially those such as Ford and Hyundai that are introducing models this year - are likely to pick up sales.

On Wednesday, Ford's stock rose 3.2% or 36 cents to close at $11.55 per share. Ford also is to report year-end earnings today.

Meanwhile, the shares of five publicly traded automotive dealership groups declined. Shares of AutoNation, the largest U.S. automotive retailer, fell 21 cents to close at $18.31 per share.

AutoNation spokesman Marc Cannon gave Toyota credit for getting information out to its dealers as quickly as possible, and for putting the consumer first.
"They are being very proactive," Cannon said.

AutoNation operates 207 franchises in the U.S., including 25 Toyota locations.

A spokesman for Bloomfield Hills-based Penske Automotive Group, which operates 39 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in the U.S., did not return a phone call Wednesday. Shares of Penske Automotive fell 74 cents to close at $14.09 per share on Wednesday.


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