RBC Capital analyst Joseph Spak upgraded shares of GM to outperform from sector perform on his belief in stronger truck production in the new year and a more resilient company. Spak also noted upside in General Motor’s investment in the robo-taxi industry as the Detroit-based firm doubles down on autonomous vehicle technology, potentially serving as a “game changing paradigm shift” for GM. (See also: GM Could Beat Tesla in Autonomous Cars: Barclays.)
Underestimating Downside Protection
Spak lifted his price target to $52 from $51, reflecting a 22% upside from Wednesday morning. Trading up 0.3% at $42.62, GM has gained 22.7% year-to-date (YTD), compared to the S&P 500’s 19.9% increase over the same period.
RBC forecasts GM’s North American truck sales to decline less than the rest of Wall Street expects, leading its North American segment to reach its 10% margin target by next year. The investment firm indicates that the stock “fits squarely into our preferred narrative for 2018—increased confidence on downturn resiliency with a seat at the table on new mobility.” As a result, the analyst upped his 2018 earnings per share (EPS) forecast to $6.30, approximately 9% higher than the consensus.
“We believe autonomous will first permeate in urban areas where the cost/mile is very high which is likely why GM is testing in those locations. Interestingly, GM is typically under-represented in urban areas so the cannibalization of itself is lower and shared autonomous looks to be an incremental opportunity for GM," wrote the RBC analyst. "Only time will tell whether we and/or GM are right on the opportunity.” Ultimately, however, Spak stated that from a stock perspective, since GM has earned “a seat at the table” regarding current mobility trends, he sees an opportunity for new investors. (See also: Tesla Sales to Beat $60B Within Decade: Nomura.)