With the US auto market back in gear, opportunities abound for auto makers that are enjoying pent-up demand. However, this same recovery also benefits auto parts makers. In many cases, these companies have impressive histories of growing earnings, so they may be safer investments than traditional automobile stocks. In the industry, Magna International Inc. (USA) (NYSE:MGA) looks like a good choice due to its stable earnings performance and relatively low valuation.
Canada-based Magna International Inc. (USA) (NYSE:MGA) is a large global automotive supplier that manufactures a wide range of parts, including seating systems, powertrain systems, engine electronics, structural components and driver controls. The company has some 315 manufacturing locations in 29 countries. The stock has a fairly large market cap of $17.61 billion, and it is up an impressive 77% over the last twelve months. Furthermore, it offers a 1.70% dividend yield at a very low 18% payout ratio.
Strong auto market fueling demand
US car sales are booming. For the first time since 2007, August monthly sales are expected to hit an annualized rate of 16 million vehicles. Companies like General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), a customer of Magna International Inc. (USA) (NYSE:MGA), are now preparing to ramp up production in response to this healthy demand . However, it is not only the US market that is growing. GM, once teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, expects to sell a record 5 million vehicles in 2013, partly as a result of strength in Middle-Eastern sales . General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s management is optimistic about the rest of the year, and expects strong performances in the US and China especially.
Magna International Inc. (USA) (NYSE:MGA) has clearly capitalized on this trend. In its most recent quarterly report, the company delivered record results. Revenue of $8.96 billion was up 16% year-over-year, versus a 7% increase in North American vehicle production for the same period. Production sales, complete vehicle assembly sales, engineering and tooling sales all increased, across all regions . Somehow, the company achieved a 14% increase in European production sales, in a market that dipped 1%.
The company’s updated outlook also says a lot about the state of the auto market. After expecting that 15.9 million light vehicles would be produced in North America in 2013 in its first quarter report, the company now expects around 16.1 million units to be produced. European production is expected to increase by a similar number of units. Magna’s updated full-year sales guidance is now $33.3-$34.7 billion, versus previous guidance of $32.6-$34 billion. Furthermore, the company’s operating margin is expected to rise from 5% to 5.8%.
Sales in comparison: Dana Holding Corporation (NYSE:DAN)
Dana Holding Corporation (NYSE:DAN), based in the US, is one of the companies that competes with Magna International Inc. (USA) (NYSE:MGA). With a smaller $3.14 billion market cap, Dana is mainly involved in the production of driveline technologies such as axles and driveshafts. Despite the strength of the US auto market, the company hasn’t been able to profit as much as Magna. Second quarter sales came in at $1.8 billion, down from $1.9 billion in the same period last year, partly due to scheduled light vehicle roll-offs and unfavorable currency effects. While Dana’s net income increased 7% year-over-year, the company refined its guidance to the lower end of its previous guidance, largely due to economic pressures in India and South America.