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A New Income and Growth Story for Automakers in 2014

By Marshall Hargrave – Feb 20, 2014 at 9:23AM

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This major U.S. auto company is the latest income play in the industry, potentially making it a better buy than the major Japanese players.

The company is far from new, but the fact that it has now become an income story is new. General Motors (GM 0.94%) recently announced that it was reinstating its dividend. The automaker will pay a $0.30 a share dividend in March. This puts its forward yield at an impressive 3.1%. Compare that to top peer Ford (F 0.15%), which has a forward yield of 2.4%.

From a valuation perspective, both of the major U.S. automakers are very appealing. GM and Ford both trade at less than nine times forward earnings. And coupling their valuations with analysts' expectations for earnings growth, and they both offer compelling growth at a reasonable price investments. Each company has a price-to-earnings-to-growth ratio of 0.7, where anything less than one is considered cheap.

What gets the industry higher?
The biggest tailwind for GM and the entire automaker industry is that global vehicle sales are expected to continue hitting highs. In 2013, global sales were more than 80 million, a 4% year-over-year increase and some 20 million units above the lows of 2009.

General Motors has already set its sights on the faster-growing emerging markets. This includes the likes of Brazil, China, and India. Going into 2013, GM announced plans to expand its dealership count in Thailand and Indonesia. 

What should drive additional auto sales for GM in these areas is the rising level of income. In China alone, GM plans to build four new plants by 2015, which will up its annual production rate and triple exports from the country.

Both GM and Ford have been trying to fend off gains in market share by Japanese automaker Toyota Motor (TM -0.76%). The Japanese automaker is the world's No. 1 automaker by units sold. Toyota sold 10.3 million cars in 2013, while GM sold 9.7 million. For the last two years, 2012 and 2013, Toyota has topped GM as the No. 1 automaker in the world.

Toyota remains cheap after a series of rough events. This includes the tsunami of 2011 and the massive recalls of 14 million vehicles for sticky gas pedals and faulty floor mats. As a result, Toyota also appears to be trading along the lines of Ford and GM, cheaply. Its PEG ratio is 0.3, with its price-to-earnings ratio at 10.4.

Bottom line
Both of the major U.S. automakers look to be solid investment ideas for 2014. Each stock trades relatively cheap and both are making the fast-growing Asian market a main focus. GM has a leg up in the Asian market, namely in China, where at the end of the third quarter, GM owned 14% of the auto market share in China compared to Ford's 4%.

As well, both of these stocks are income plays, paying forward dividend yields in excess of 2.5%. Toyota is fairly cheap and has a 2.1% forward dividend yield. If investors believe in a continuation of the robust auto demand, any of these three stocks would be a suitable investment for 2014. 

Marshall Hargrave has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Ford Stock Quote
$13.75 (0.15%) $0.02
Toyota Motor Stock Quote
Toyota Motor
$145.40 (-0.76%) $-1.11
General Motors Stock Quote
General Motors
$39.75 (0.94%) $0.37

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