Wall Street this week continues to take companies to the woodshed for lousy report cards. The stocks of several major companies, notably Apple, have tumbled after anemic third-quarter earnings reports. Conversely, other companies in strong sectors such as financial services have soared on positive results.
Below, we pinpoint an under-the-radar stock in the automobile industry that's set to pop in the wake of strong earnings. This company is defying the earnings recession and should enjoy profitable momentum well into 2017 and beyond.
First, let's do the numbers. According to research firm FactSet, the blended earnings decline for the S&P 500 I:GSPC for the third quarter was 0.3% as of last Friday. That number was too early to include a majority of the index's companies, but if overall S&P 500 earnings wind up declining in the third quarter, it will mark six consecutive quarters of year-over-year earnings declines. That hasn't happened since the third quarter of 2008, and everyone probably remembers that was hardly a stellar year.
That said, the year-over-year drops in earnings are getting smaller, providing investors with hope that the earnings recession is finally coming to an end. Growth opportunities exist, if you know where to look.
One company that's already bucking the trend is Tenneco (TEN) - Get Report , which designs, manufactures and sells emission control products for light, commercial, and specialty vehicle applications worldwide. The company's wide variety of products includes catalytic converters and diesel oxidation catalysts; mufflers and resonators to reduce noise; and exhaust manifolds to trap gases. The company also offers ride control systems, such as shock absorbers, struts and vibration reducers.
Tenneco sells its products to major auto OEMs and to the repair and replacement aftermarkets under such familiar brands as Monroe, Rancho, Axios, Kinetic, Walker, DynoMax, Thrush and Lukey.
Headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., the company is benefiting from growing vehicle sales as well as a flurry of new antipollution regulations in the U.S. and around the world.
Still-low interest rates, falling unemployment and rising home prices are creating a "wealth effect" that's propelling consumers into vehicle showrooms. This buying mood should continue during the holiday shopping season, boosting auto sales for large automobile manufacturers such as General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler, all of which are Tenneco's major customers.
What's more, if the Democrats win the White House this year, as the latest polls strongly suggest, expect more antipollution legislation that will further drive demand for Tenneco's products.
Tenneco is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Friday, Oct. 28, and expectations are sanguine. On average, analysts estimate adjusted earnings per share of $1.49, vs. $1.22 in the same quarter a year ago. Fourth-quarter EPS is pegged at $1.49, compared with the year-ago figure of $1.39. For full-year 2016, EPS is estimated at $5.88, vs. $4.87 in 2015. For fiscal 2017, the EPS estimate is $6.57.
Those are healthy numbers in light of corporate earnings that have been disappointing, quarter after quarter, for the S&P 500. Tenneco's profits are expected to stay strong, with analysts projecting earnings growth for the next five years of 13%, compared with a paltry 0.12% for its industry.
So far this year, Tenneco's stock has outperformed the auto parts sector, the automobile manufacturing sector and the broader stock market. Tenneco's shares have gained 19% in 2016, compared with a 4.3% decline for the S&P 500 Auto Parts and Equipment index, a 4.1% decline for the First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index, and a 4.7% gain for the S&P 500.
Even after the big run-up this year in Tenneco's price, there's still room for capital appreciation. The company's mid-cap market valuation of $3.13 billion allows it a market-beating upward trajectory that's elusive from the mega-cap auto OEMs.
Tenneco's shares now trade at $54.55; the average analyst one-year price target is $62.20, which suggests shares can gain 14% in the next year. The stock trades at a bargain, however. Its trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is 12.19, compared to 15.88 for the auto parts and equipment industry.
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John Persinos is an editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, he owned stock in Apple.