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Worried U.S. Auto Sales Have Peaked? You Might Be Overreacting

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In a report this week, Barclays analyst Brian A. Johnson shared a look into the U.S. autos and auto parts industries, and tried to answer the question: “Is it time for the recession playbook?”

The expert believes it is not time yet, the note assured. However, it is time to adjust (cut) multiples accordingly, it continued. Upon review, the firm reiterated a Neutral rating on the U.S. Autos & Auto Parts sector, based on the thesis that auto sales will remain plateaued in the country.

“Auto stocks have been under pressure as concerns have heightened that U.S. light vehicle SAAR has peaked, with an impending decline,” the report went on. However, the analysts think the worries are overdone, and forecast volumes of 17.6 million and 15.5 million for 2016 and 2017, respectively, up from 17.4 million in 2015. In addition, they noted, conditions for auto credit remain favorable.

Having said this, and leaving aside any near-term recoils from normalized sentiment, the experts believe the outlook for the sector is “neutral at best, with negative risk-reward skew over the next few years.”

If a downtown materialized, the firm said to prefer Mobileye NV (NYSE: MBLY), Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE: DLPH) and Harman International Industries Inc./DE/ (NYSE: HAR), as their “solid cost structures and secular trends” provide some defensiveness. Barclays rates these three stocks an Overweight.

Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no positions in any of the securities mentioned above.

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