Isn't it interesting when investors seemingly undervalue a company's business?
We hear it all the time with Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio holding Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report , as its Services business generates $8 billion or more in quarterly revenue and is growing sales in the high teens range. On its own, we're talking about a high-margin company with double-digit growth and annual sales north of $30 billion.
That would turn some heads in an IPO.
According to Morgan Stanley analysts, the Ford F-Series should generate sales of about $42 billion this year. From a revenue perspective, this would put a standalone F-Series business at No. 72 on the Fortune 500 list (once you exclude Ford, which is forecast to generate revenue in excess of $145 billion this year).
From a profit standpoint, the F-Series lineup is even more impressive. Morgan Stanley analysts estimate that the unit should generate $10 billion in EBITDA this year and produce a net profit of $6.5 billion. Also worth noting is that the F-Series carries EBITDA margins of approximately 25%.
Impressively, the F-series profit would land at No. 38 on the Fortune 500 list (again, excluding Ford). That's ahead of McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Report and 3M Co. (MMM) - Get 3M Company Report and not far behind Boeing Co. (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report , PepsiCo (PEP) - Get PepsiCo, Inc. Report and Visa (V) - Get Visa Inc. Class A Report .
So should Ford spinoff its F-Series lineup? I don't think anybody believes that's a realistic scenario. But it gets investors thinking about what the segment is worth to the automaker and whether the market is discounting Ford as a whole too much.
After all, the company still has other contributing business segments and even its lending arm, Ford Credit, contributes to the automaker's results. While the company may be stagnating with no growth and deserves some form of a discount as a result, one could argue that the current valuation is simply too low.
Given the trends in the auto market and how investors have been valuing these companies, it's no wonder Ford plans to drop most of its sedan offerings and put more focus on SUVs, trucks and vans.
For its part, Morgan Stanley analysts maintain an overweight rating on Ford with a $16 price target, indicating 33% upside.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.