The head of Magna International Inc. says investors who’ve been dumping shares in North America’s second-largest auto parts maker are overlooking a burgeoning growth-driver at the Canadian company — technology.
Magna stock has slumped 31 percent over the past 12 months to a market value of about $15 billion. That’s left the company, which employs about 129,000 people in more than 300 plants from Germany to China, the most undervalued among its global peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“I think the perception is, we’re not a technology play,” Magna Chief Executive Officer Don Walker said in an interview in Bloomberg’s Toronto office. “We’re doing a lot of R&D.”
Magna has tumbled with its peers amid concerns U.S. auto sales peaked with last year’s record deliveries. Shares have also been impacted by speculation that new rivals in China, or companies such as Tesla Motors Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. are about to dethrone incumbent auto manufacturers with electric or autonomous vehicles, Walker said.
The slide has left Magna’s price-earnings ratio at 6.9 times future earnings, the lowest among the world’s 10 largest auto suppliers, according to Bloomberg data. That’s even as the Aurora, Ontario-based company has generated an average annual return on capital of 18 percent over the past three years, compared with the 13 percent average of its peers. Its profitability, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, has also risen faster. Analysts forecast Magna shares will rise 28 percent in the next 12 months versus an 18 percent average for its 10 peers.
Magna also posted quarterly results that topped analysts estimates on Friday, with sales up 16 percent to $9.44 billion from a year ago and diluted earnings rising 9.3 percent to $1.41 a share. The company has now posted nine straight quarters of better-than-projected results.
At the same time, Magna’s own technology efforts are being given short shrift, Walker said.
Magna acquired Telemotive AG, an engineering services company specializing in driver assistance, vehicle diagnostics, electronics and auto software for an undisclosed sum in April. It has five facilities and employs about 550 people, who will be integrated into Magna’s vehicle manufacturing and engineering unit, Magna Steyr in Germany.
Magna is also keeping an eye out for potential acquisitions or partnerships to bolster the firm’s electronics unit, which focuses on cameras and sensors needed in automated driving technology, Walker said.
Mobility of the future could be on any number of fronts, he said.