As part of our series based on the China growth story, we present three U.S.-listed Chinese auto component players, which we believe will benefit from soaring domestic vehicle sales and the country's growing share in global auto component exports. Last week we focused on three opportunities for investors looking to gain from China's agricultural growth. Production of both passenger and commercial cars in China hit record highs during March of 1.73 million units, an increase of 44% from February. During the first quarter this year, total production was 4.55 million units, up 77% from a year earlier. Auto exports have been on the rise, reflecting a surge in demand not only in China but in other geographies as well. Chinese auto manufacturers exported 39,500 cars, 49% higher than the previous month and 78% higher year on year, said Zhu Yiping, assistant secretary-general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers earlier this month. U.S. manufacturers too are looking to cash in on this lucrative opportunity. General Motors expects to boost its annual sales in China to more than 3 million vehicles by 2015, GM China Group President Kevin Wale told the Wall Street Journal. This opens up a tremendous opportunity for auto component manufacturers who are collectively benefiting from positive macro developments in the Chinese auto sector. Sorl Auto Parts ( SORL), Wonder Auto Technology ( WATG) and China Automotive Systems ( CAAS) are three stocks that we believe are poised to ride this growth. These stocks are currently trading at forward price-to-earnings ratios of 12.85, 12.96, and 23.15%, respectively. These stocks are trading at much lower valuations when compared with global peers like Dana Holding ( DAN), Stoneridge ( SRI), and ArvinMeritor ( ARM), which are trading at 97.54, 30.42, and 43.98, respectively.
Sorl Auto PartsSORL Auto Parts is a leading air brake valve manufacturing company based in China. The company conducts business through Rui'An Auto Parts, its Sino-foreign joint venture with Ruili Group, with the former holding 90% ownership. The company manufactures 40 different types of brake valves for more than 1,000 different specifications that are primarily sold to commercial vehicle manufacturers. For the quarter ended December 2009, the company reported net sales of $41 million, a 63.3% increase over the same quarter of 2008. Net income grew by as much as 184.1% to $5 million, or 28 cents a share.
In January, the company announced a preliminary agreement to form a strategic alliance with the Shandong Shifeng Group, one of the largest agricultural vehicle and light-duty truck producers in China. As per the agreement, Shandong Shifeng Group plans to increase its purchases of brake systems and related products from Sorl this year and implement new joint product development programs. Sorl's management estimates fiscal first-quarter revenue of $30 million and net income of about $2.9 million, representing a year-over-year increase of 48.5% and 222%, respectively. Sorl is trading at $9.79 a share, having appreciated 17% over the past one month.