Between a high sticker price and strict purchase rules, it can be near-impossible to join the Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) owners club. However, even if you cannot own a Ferrari, you can still come along for the ride, through ownership of RACE stock.
In fact, investors in this iconic Italian sports car brand have had quite the ride so far this year. During this time, Ferrari has continued to “crush it,” with its operating performance. This has enabled shares to zoom higher, to the tune of 37.6%.
On the surface, this stock may appear pricey. Shares trade at a substantial premium to most automotive stocks. It may also seem unwise to invest in a luxury automaker at this stage of the economic cycle. My view, however, is that valuation and recession worries are unfounded.
Far from being vulnerable to serious reversal, plenty of long-term runway remains.
Leaving Most Automotive Stocks in the Dust
Ferrari has not been the top-performing automotive stock year-to-date. Some of the top electric vehicle (or EV) stocks, like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Li Auto (NASDAQ:LI) have appreciated in value by even greater amounts since January.
However, for incumbent automakers, and most EV names, RACE stock has left them in the dust. “Old school” automakers from the U.S., Europe, and Japan have accrued more modest gains. Lower quality EV upstarts are down by double-digits.
So, why has RACE kept racing along, when so many other auto stocks have sputtered? Chalk it up to two factors. First, the company’s continued strong results.
Second, while Ferrari isn’t alone in reporting strong automotive sales/earnings recently, it has one key advantage over the “old school” and “new school” competition. This not only justifies the RACE’s current premium valuation (43.6 times forward earnings). Ferrari’s key advantage points to higher prices ahead for shares as well.
Kicking the Tires
Much like how it’s not surprising that a Ferrari costs more than a Fiat, it’s no shock that RACE stock trades at a big premium to Fiat’s manufacturer (and Ferrari’s former parent company), Stellantis (NYSE:STLA). STLA trades for only 3 times forward earnings.
Still, you may be concerned that RACE’s rich valuation is not sustainable. After all, while Ferrari is still reporting above-average growth, other richly-priced auto stocks like Tesla have even stronger growth prospects. Not only that, with reports of automotive demand slowing down, couldn’t shares tumble on disappointment?
Not necessarily. Again, there’s something that may give Ferrari shares the edge, even in the event of a severe global recession: greater resilience. As Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas argued back in March, when he deemed RACE his favorite auto stock, Ferrari is a defensive name in this cyclical space.
Thanks to strengths like pricing power and a long order backlog, this automaker should keep performing well, even if the automobile industry downturn worsens from here.
This is an advantage that even Tesla may lack, as the EV market leader faces uncertainties over future demand/profitability for its vehicle offerings, targeted towards the more price-sensitive mass affluent market.
If you’re looking for a stock exhibiting the qualities of both a defensive stock and a growth stock, RACE is a top choice. The company’s aforementioned strengths stand to enable it to ride out a downturn, all while continuing to grow earnings at an above-average pace.
Sell-side consensus calls for Ferrari to grow earnings by double-digits this year, next year, and the year after that. Keep in mind that these may be conservative estimates. This longtime producer of gas-powered vehicles has only started to go electric.
Pivoting more towards producing EVs in the coming years may help the company sustain an even higher-than-expected level of revenue and earnings growth.
Bottom line: it’s clear that there’s plenty more runway ahead for RACE stock, despite its steep valuation. Consider it a strong buy at current prices, and a screaming buy on any weakness.
RACE stock earns an A rating in Portfolio Grader.
On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.