The beaten-up and out-of-favor automobile sector is one of the main sectors that is currently being overlooked by value investors. But passing on automobile stocks here could prove to be a mistake.
Despite extremely compelling valuations (price-to-earnings multiples in the single digits), attractive dividend yields and numerous turnaround business plans in place, many car stocks are at such big discounts now that any catalyst — small or big — could lead to massive rewards for investors.
The selloff in automobile stocks accelerated in the summer of 2018 and reached peak selling by November 2018. Although these stocks eventually regained buying momentum, they pulled back again in March as macro worries returned to markets.
The lack of a trade deal between the U.S. and China did not scare markets as a whole, as the S&P 500 rose by 14% in the first quarter. But automobile stocks were left behind. With that in mind, here are five car stocks to buy now:
Ford (NYSE:F) rallied over 5.5% on the week, despite lacking any noteworthy headlines. But if you take a closer look at F stock, you’ll notice some promising opportunities.
The recent rally took F stock’s P/E back to 10X for the first time in months and income investors will like F stock for its 6.7% dividend yield.
Investors have largely ignored its partnership with Volkswagon (OTCMKTS:VWAGY) which may prove a big mistake. VW plans to spend $11 billion restructuring its business and $50 billion for developing electric vehicles and self-driving cars by 2023. By partnering with VW, Ford becomes an EV play, but its stock is not as expensive as some of its competitors like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), which has a forward P/E of 32X. Ford shares trade at a forward P/E of 6.7X.
Investors who pay more attention to F stock again will enjoy the company’s $160 billion in annual sales, $3.55 billion in income and book value of $9.06 a share.
However, there are a few risks to owning this well-known car stock. Ford has historically underperformed other big automobile stocks and it has consistently traded at valuations below that of its peers. The stock needs sentiment to change before multiples expand and the stock price increases.
General Motors (GM)
General Motors (NYSE:GM) is another standout among automobile stocks. Specifically, GM stock has risen 23.6% from its 52-week low, and offers a 4% dividend yield and at a P/E of 6.6X.
GM stock took a hit on the chin after the company made headlines for its decision to cut costs in a massive layoff that ended the production of its Chevrolet Cruze at its assembly plant in Ohio.
GM has to close several of its American plants because many of its plants are running with only one shift but need two shifts to be profitable. But as gloomy as this may seem, after years of competition, GM may no longer run its production at a loss.
Furthermore, on the global expansion front, GM will introduce 20 new and refreshed models in China. The company knows that to compete effectively in the region, it needs an optimal product mix that includes new product designs and technology offerings. GM may introduce new technologies to its vehicles, such as vehicle-to-everything communications and Super Cruise. If its competitors offer nothing close to that, GM has a chance to grow market share.
Fiat Chrysler (FCAU)
Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) might seem like the weakest company on this list of car stocks to buy, but much of the perceived weakness in FCAU stock is because shares have unwinded from a takeover premium.
FCAU stock is down 37.6% from its 52-week highs, bringing its dividend yield to an attractive 4.9% and granting the company a P/E of 6.6X.
Similar to GM, Fiat is also cutting factory jobs.
On March 28, the company said it would cut 1,500 jobs at a plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The decision will reduce its minivan output, which is likely a response to lackluster sales performance in this area.
On the bright side, the company added 6,500 jobs to expand its Jeep production. Strong demand for SUVs could be a tailwind for Fiat. Its next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new, full-size SUV with three rows could offset falling Fiat, Chrysler and Dodge sales. In February, Jeep sales actually fell 4%, while Chrysler sales fell 36%. Meanwhile, Ram sales rose 24%.
Hovering near its 52-week low, Toyota (NYSE:TM) trades at a similar P/E multiple to that of F stock at 10.3X.
TM stock is in a bit of a downtrend because its U.S. sales are weak. In February, unit sales fell overall, led by Camry sales falling 21% and Prius sales down 48%. Mind you, the Prius is a smaller part of total sales. Corolla, Land Cruiser and Highlander sales grew in February.
In a move that may please the U.S. President, Toyota increased the value of its 2017 pledge to invest $10 billion over five years in the U.S. It will now commit around $13 billion in that time to make the RAV4 and Lexus ES 300h hybrids in Kentucky.
Increasing production in the U.S. instead of in Mexico will help diminish tariff risks for Toyota. And its joint venture with Mazda (OTCMKTS:MZDAY) to build another plant in the U.S. will add $1.4 billion in investments and create 4,000 jobs in Huntsville, Alabama.
Another potential catalyst for TM stock is that Toyota said it would bring back the Supra. This move may signal the company’s confidence in winning market share in the two-door sports car market. While sales of Lexus and Toyota automobiles grow steadily, adding a nostalgic sports car back into the mix is a symbol of confidence for the company. In this business, it’s a bold move to bring back a previously retired model, but also one that can pay off handsomely.
Honda (NYSE:HMC) is deeply discounted with a P/E of 7.5X and a dividend yield of 3.6%. Although it recently announced it will recall around 1 million vehicles with dangerous airbags, the last quarterly earnings report showed many areas of strength.
Honda reported a historical record for sales of light trucks in 2018. Likewise, Acura RDX, Pilot and CR-V sales set a new calendar year record. It has an all-new Passport release for this year. And in the EV front, its Everus VE-1 is a mass-production EV that also holds great promise.
Although Honda expects its operating profits to fall by 5.2%, the company did not indicate any change to its dividend policy in its forecast. The company forecast that most weakness will come from the North American market. For investors looking to diversify outside of the U.S. market, HMC stock provides geographically diverse exposure to Japan and other Asian markets.
With strong profit growth in Asia and profits expected to go up in North America despite lower sales, investors should consider HMC stock.
As of this writing, Chris Lau held shares of Ford.
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