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Buy the stock now: analysts

Despite general worry over Fiat Chrysler’s sales slide over the last 14 months there’s one group still convinced that FCA is on the right track strategically: analysts and investors.

Some stock market analysts use nothing but superlatives when describing FCA’s performance over the past couple of years, which includes tripling the value of its publicly traded stock, FCAU. and positioning itself for steady growth and potential new partnerships.

The sales potential of the next-gen Jeep Wrangler is one reason stock-pickers are unconcerned with FCA’s overall monthly sales figures

One of FCAU’s biggest boosters is seekingalpha.com, a crowd-sourced investing website that has been touting Fiat Chrysler’s upside for some time. Now, crowd-sourcing is a hint you might want to take the advice with a grain of salt. But the site has had a decent record in reading the financial tea leaves, and it’s far from alone in praising FCA’s performance. Back in August, after the second quarter report, the site called FCAU “severely undervalued” and a “crazy buy” because several of its divisions could be worth more as standalone brands than the entire company is worth on the stock market.

Maserati alone has been posting “magnificent” numbers and should be worth “80 % to 100%” as much as FCAU as a whole, or about as much as Ferrari is on the open market, which was about $21 billion at that point. FCAU as a whole was worth around $18 billion. Today it’s market cap is approximately $26.89 billion. So seekingalpha.com was right.

Jeep alone should be worth 120% of the current value of Fiat Chrysler, seekingalpha’s analysts said, due to high margins in the segment and bullet-proof demand for its products.

Meanwhile, some of the company’s insiders and defenders keep wringing their hands over last month’s sales figures. Why the disconnect between the two groups?

Maybe the bottom-line guys see something the armchair sales quarterbacks are missing. Maybe they see the wisdom in cutting low-margin fleet sales rather than using them to goose factory order books to make better numbers, as FCA reported it did last month.

The investors probably also think it’s a good idea to ditch low-profit sedans which aren’t selling and focus instead on high-margin pickup trucks and SUVs – which is exactly what FCA has been doing for the past half year or more.

And although they don’t mention it in every news story, the analysts probably agree that CEO Sergio Marchionne’s determination to pay down debt by another $2 billion by the end of this year – as he referred to again in a conference call two weeks ago – also points to better things to come for FCA, the company, and FCAU, the stock.

Lower debt means “improved operating performance and lower financial charges (and) stronger profit margins,” according to marketrealist.com in a story from Tuesday.

According to this piece by Josh Arnord, FCAU the stock has turned in a “truly staggering performance against the likes of GM and Ford” over the past couple of years, and it continues to be a good value  after a sell-off from a high earlier this year.

Fiat Chrysler stock, he says, looks like a deal even without paying a premium for it because you think somebody might buy it or merge with it at some point going forward.

And today alphabetastock.com named FCAU it’s “Top Pick for Thursday” as an attention-grabbing volatile stock and good bet. They’re predicting an 18% increase in stock price over the next five years. That’s not much compared to the 52% growth of the last five years, but nothing to wring your hands about.

 

Chris Vander Doelen was Opinion Editor and columnist of The Windsor Star until December, 2016; He was the Star's automotive reporter and columnist for seven years, and had also covered the political and gambling beats. With his wife, Veronique Mandal, he wrote the book Chasing Lightning (1999). Chris won a National Newspaper Award in 1997 and more than a dozen provincial news awards. There is a Chrysler 300 in his driveway.

This post was last modified on November 9, 2017, 4:00 pm

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