There are few things more enjoyable for investors than discovering the next big stock story before anyone else. And with much of the media focused on the hottest stories, the latest blockbuster acquisition, and simply the largest companies, so many other stocks get overlooked. That leaves investors with an opportunity to discover diamonds in the rough, and three Motley Fool contributors believe Veoneer Inc. (NYSE:VNE), Uxin Ltd. (NASDAQ:UXIN), and AerCap Holdings (NYSE:AER) fit the bill.
When cars drive better than you
Daniel Miller (Veoneer Inc.): If you're looking to uncover intriguing stocks that few have heard of, look no further than Veoneer Inc. The reason many investors have yet to discover Veoneer is because it was previously a part of Autoliv Inc., a company that is now focused on passive safety products such as airbags and seat belts, while Veoneer becomes a leader in electronics, active safety, and technologies for driverless vehicles.
More specifically, Veoneer boasts one of the broadest and most advanced product portfolios in the industry with automotive radars, cameras with driver assist systems, night-vision systems, and position systems. Already the company's products are installed in roughly 175 car models with more than 30 million radars and 4 million camera products delivered. Its business is accelerating, and for the 12 months through May 2018, the company's annual order intake jumped 48%, compared with the prior 12 months, to a record $1.1 billion. Management believes that will support its 2020 sales target of $3 billion as well as its 2022 target of $4 billion.
Going forward, Veoneer will be focusing on sensors and technologies needed to develop driverless vehicles, a market that will be lucrative. The reason that's important for investors is that currently driver assistance uses roughly one to six sensors. As vehicles move up the levels of autonomy, the number and cost of sensors increase. At level three -- think automated lane change, traffic jam piloting, and automated parking -- the number of sensors exceeds 15. Beginning at level four, that moves to more than 25, and as both the number of sensors and systems increases with the level of autonomy and the number of driverless cars on the road, it offers Veoneer a lucrative opportunity to grow its business in the decades ahead.
Fresh off the IPO press
Jeremy Bowman (Uxin Ltd.): If you're looking for a stock that Wall Street hasn't caught wind of yet, consider Uxin, China's leading used-car e-commerce platform. Uxin debuted on the market in June and has still gone largely unnoticed by the financial community, as only three Wall Street analysts have issued earnings estimates this year. In addition, the stock has received almost no coverage from the financial media, and it's trading at much lower volume than similarly sized companies.
It probably doesn't help that the stock is down nearly a third from its IPO price, but the sell-off and its relative anonymity set up a promising buying opportunity for investors.
Similar to CarMax, Uxin is the leading online used-car platform in China with 41% share of the B2C [business-to-consumer] market and 42% of the B2B [business-to-business] market, and gaining. Founded in 2011, Uxin has quickly asserted itself, and continues to put up impressive growth numbers as it penetrates the world's largest car market.
In its most recent quarter, revenue jumped 79.6% to $100.6 million, and gross margin surged from 55.8% to 61.1%. The company is still operating at a wide loss as it invests to build its platform, but investor attention should be on top-line growth and market share at this stage of the game. If Uxin can dominate the used-car e-commerce industry, profits should eventually take care of themselves, as competitive advantages like network effects and switching costs are built into its marketplace model. Considering its growth potential, the stock looks very reasonably priced at a price-to-sales ratio of 4 based on this year's projected revenue. The sale won't last forever, though, as the big money is bound to take notice sooner or later.
Left on the tarmac
Jordan Wathen (AerCap Holdings): There is nothing exciting about what AerCap does. It buys jets and leases them to aircraft operators on contracts that span a decade or longer. Though few have heard of it, it's easily one of the most important bankers to the airline industry.
Aircraft leasing is cyclical and competitive, but AerCap stands out for having a management team that is laser-focused on shareholder returns. Its CEO, Aengus Kelly, is a true owner-operator, given he stands to make substantially more from gains in the share price than the salary he draws from the company. His stock is worth nearly 13 times the entirety of compensation paid to all of the company's executive officers last year.
Given its CEO's outsize stake, it's not surprising that AerCap has an impressive record of capital allocation. When the stock is cheap, AerCap monetizes its fleet and repurchases stock. In the last three years alone, the company bought back more than a third of shares outstanding.
Shares look cheap today. Despite a long record of double-digit returns on equity on a conservatively leveraged balance sheet, the stock trades at a 15% discount to last-reported book value. History suggests that its reported book value will likely prove conservative, given the company's ability to sell aircraft at prices exceeding their accounting value. Put this stock on your radar. Rarely does the market present an opportunity to buy a well-run finance company run by people who are truly aligned with shareholders at prices below book value.