This Chinese EV maker can grab market share and double its earnings, Ariel Investments says


Ariel Investments says that investors are underestimating the potential of Great Wall Motor to double its earnings. Henry Mallari D’Auria is chief investment officer for emerging markets at Chicago-based Ariel. He said that Great Wall Motor was the company where investors will be most surprised by market share gains. At a recent panel on emerging markets, the chief investment officer of Ariel named Chinese SUV and pickup trucks maker as a company worth watching. Great Wall Motor was a part of the Ariel Emerging Value Portfolio, which held a 2.28% stake in the stock at the end of June. Ariel manages the portfolio of $10.4 million in a separate account. Great Wall competes with rival Chinese EV manufacturers BYD Company, Geely and its U.S. traded shares, an American Depositary Recipient, have fallen 9% in the past year. Great Wall’s market capitalization is double that of Geely, which owns Polestar and Volvo, but it is smaller than BYD. BYD was perhaps most famous in the U.S. because of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Investment in 2008. Mallari-D’Auria stated that he believes Great Wall will gain market share in China by building out its SUV line, which includes vehicles with higher prices. He believes that the higher prices will allow Great Wall to improve its margins. According to the money manager, historically, investors believed Great Wall would earn a profit margin of 3%-5%. He said that the upgrades to the models could push the automaker’s margins up to around 9% or 10%. Mallari-D’Auria stated that investors may have missed the chance to understand how the SUV launches would change Great Wall’s profit margins. “I believe that Great Wall’s earning can double from this point and that will mean significant upside for stock” in the next 18-24 months. This could be gains as high as “double-digits” percents. There are certain risks associated with trading Great Wall. Its primary listing is Hong Kong. JPMorgan analyst Nick Lai gave a neutral rating to the EV manufacturer in July. He said that Great Wall might not be able to differentiate itself from its competitors. In addition, a weaker consumer mood in China has also hurt the demand for cars this year. Mallari-D’Auria believes that demand will rebound as the Chinese economy improves, and the government increases spending in the property sector. He said that a gradual improvement in incomes and the economy will improve consumer confidence. We would also expect the government to take further steps to help real estate developers in order to maintain a positive consumer sentiment. The portfolio manager expects Great Wall to start gaining market share in Europe over the long term. However, the near-term opportunities remain at home. Michael Bloom, a CNBC reporter, contributed to this article.