3 Parts Makers That Should Benefit From Auto Market Improvement

Includes: JCI, LEA, TEN
by: Bret Jensen

The average age of the American car fleet is now at a record of 9.4 years. In addition, domestic auto sales have bounced off the recent generational low of 10.4 million cars in 2009 but are still way under the 16 to 17 million vehicle annual rate that was common prior to the financial crisis. This bodes well for the original and replacement auto replacement part business.

Lear Corp (NYSE:LEA) - Lear Corporation engages in the design and manufacture of automotive seat systems and related components for automobiles and light trucks. Its seat components include mechanisms, seat trim covers, and seat foams. The company also offers traditional wiring and power management systems, as well as high-power and hybrid electrical systems. It has operations in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

Valuation and Price Targets – Lear sells at just under 10 times this year's expected earnings and around 8.5 times 2012's expected earnings. LEA has crushed earnings projections for the last four quarters and earnings estimates have risen for both 2011 and 2012 over the last three months. It is priced at a PEG of .85 and around .4 times trailing revenues. It pays a dividend of 1%. It is priced in the bottom quarter of its five year valuation based on P/B, P/E, P/S, and P/B. It has more than quadrupled operating cash flow over the past two fiscal years. LEA sells at $50.82. Price targets are $73 at Credit Suisse and $70 at JPM Morgan.

Tenneco Inc. (NYSE:TEN) - Tenneco Inc., together with its subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, and sells automotive emission control and ride control systems and products worldwide. The company's emission control systems include catalytic converters and diesel oxidation catalysts to reduce harmful gaseous emissions; diesel particulate filters to eliminate particulate matter emitted from diesel engines; burner systems, which combust fuel and air inside the exhaust system; and hydrocarbon vaporizers and injectors to add fuel to a diesel exhaust system in order to regenerate diesel particulate filters.

Valuation and Price Targets – Tenneco is priced at approximately 15 times this year's consensus earnings but under 11 times 2012's projected earnings. Earnings estimates have risen for both 2011 and 2012 over the last few months. It is priced at a PEG of .39 and around .4 times trailing revenues. Tenneco's position should continue to improve as it reduces its debt and shores up its balance sheet. TEN sells for $41.74, down almost 10% for the month of May. Price targets are $54 at S&P, $59 at Credit Suisse, and JPM Morgan is at $55 for Tenneco.

Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE:JCI) - Johnson Controls, Inc. engages in building efficiency, automotive experience, and power solutions businesses worldwide. Its building efficiency business designs, produces, markets, and installs integrated heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, as well as building management systems, controls, and security and mechanical equipment. This business also provides technical services, energy management consulting, and operations of real estate portfolios for the non-residential buildings market. In addition, this business offers residential air conditioning and heating systems, and industrial refrigeration products.

Valuation and Price Targets – JCI gets over 60% of its revenues from the automotive segment. Johnson Controls is selling at approximately 15 times 2011's projected earnings and around 12 times next year's consensus EPS. JCI sells for less than 1 times its expected PEG and .7 times trailing revenues. Johnson Control's revenues are projected to grow revenues at double digits in both 2011 and 2012. Johnson Controls has a 1.6% dividend yield and is selling around $39 a share. Price targets are $53 at Credit Suisse, $52 at Morgan Stanley and $48 at S&P.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.