3 Electric Vehicle Stocks to Buy During the Market Sell-Off

Estimates and opinions on the electric vehicle (EV) market vary widely, but one thing is for certain: Sales of battery-powered cars will head higher in the coming decade. Automakers all over the world scramble to electrify their vehicle lineups. But this is a mammoth undertaking that requires the old and well-established automotive industry to rethink its operations — and in many ways, requires them to become computing technology companies.

With so many things changing and money flows shifting to new auto suppliers, there are opportunities for investors to make some money. Patience and time will be required, but three Fool.com contributors think Texas Instruments (TXN 1.59%), volkswagen (VWAGY 0.61%)and NXP Semiconductors (NXPI 0.16%) are good buys in the current market sell-off. Here’s why.

1. A more reasonable valuation on a top auto supplier

Nicholas Rossolillo (Texas Instruments): Most folks think of their old mathematics class calculator when they hear the name Texas Instruments. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. The real moneymaker for this company is actually industrial and automotive electrical components.

Texas Instruments (TI) is deeply embedded in the global auto industry supply chain. There’s a decent chance one of your vehicles utilizes components from TI in the infotainment or lighting system. And as the modern car evolves, TI is a top supplier of drivetrain parts for EVs, as well as advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) sensors and parts. What’s so great about this is that electrical components and chips are expected to go from about 40% of the cost to manufacture a car today to upward of 50% by 2030.

In other words, one of TI’s top-end markets has a long roadmap of growth ahead of it — exactly the type of trend you want from a long-term buy-and-hold stock.

But why this stock now? After the recent sell-off, shares trade for 18 times trailing-12-month earnings per share, or 25 times enterprise value to trailing-12-month free cash flow. This is still a premium price tag, but it’s near the low end of where the stock has traded over the last five years. Free cash flow has dipped as of late, but that’s because TI is spending right now to support manufacturing expansion in the coming years. EVs need exponentially more computing and electrical hardware than an internal combustion vehicle, so this should be money well spent for IT.

To bolster confidence in this investment, IT has a long history of steady and highly profitable growth. Free cash flow per share has averaged 12%-a-year expansion since 2004, and the company has doneled out a rising dividend every year since then. If reliable growth and income are what you’re after in an EV stock, Texas Instruments is a fantastic buy right now.

2. Get a 5% yield with a special dividend kicker while playing the EV transition

Billy Duberstein (Volkswagens): Of all the legacy automakers, Volkswagen may have the best shot of competing with Tesla and other upstart EV brands. Moreover, the stock looks very cheap at the moment, at just 5.8 times earnings and a 3.9% dividend yield. The preferred shares, under ticker VWAPY, are even cheaper, trading at just 4.4 times earnings and a 5.1% dividend yield.

Investors might not want to regard Volkswagen through the lens of its namesake brand. Rather, the company gets the majority of its profits from its big luxury brands. Porsche, which accounts for the “sport” segment, accounted for 25% of Volkswagen’s operating profit alone in the first half of 2022, while the “luxury segment,” which includes Lamborghini, Bentley, Ducati, and Audi, accounted for another 39% of profits.

The only other pure luxury car brand on the market, ferrari, trades at 40 times earnings. Porsche and Audi may not quite attain that luxury brand multiple, but I don’t see why Lamborghini and Bentley couldn’t achieve something similar.

In any case, investors may soon find out what valuation Porsche would get as a stand-alone company, as Volkswagen plans to sell roughly 12.5% โ€‹โ€‹of Porsche shares in an initial public offering (IPO) sometime soon. Some pin the value of Porsche at nearly the entire valuation of Volkswagen, given that current estimates range between 60 billion and 85 billion euros, versus Volkswagen’s 90 billion euro market cap.

It’s a difficult time to go public, given the myriad concerns in the market, and Europe specifically. But if the IPO eventually goes through, management plans to dispense 49% of the proceeds to shareholders in a special dividend, with the rest going toward Volkswagen’s EV transition, which is already well underway.

Battery-powered EVs are set to make up between 7% and 8% of Volkswagen’s total vehicle sales this year, up from 5.1% last year. Meanwhile, the company is also ramping up three different battery plants this year: two in Germany and one in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Meanwhile, the newest Volkswagen ID.4 is about to hit US markets, and will retail for a very reasonable starting MSRP of $41,000 — significantly lower than the Tesla Model Ys starting around $67,000. That’s especially cheap for an EV, especially if US consumers can qualify for the new $7,500 tax credit. That could do quite well, especially in lean times impacted by inflation and limited consumer spending power.

All in all, Volkswagen is a cheap way to play the EV transition, with a cheap stock, a hefty dividend, and a potential catalyst in the Porsche IPO on the horizon — and the preferred shares are even cheaper if you don’t care about voting rights.

3. EV nuts and bolts: NXP Semiconductors

Anders Bylund (NXP Semiconductors): I sold most of my Tesla stock recently, and I’m not interested in picking a winner in the barely born market for electric vehicles. At the same time, I own one stock that gives me direct access to the whole auto sector, with a heavy emphasis on ultra-modern vehicles such as electric cars with self-driving features. That stock is NXP Semiconductors, which has been a leader in car-based semiconductors for years.

Every vehicle is packed with semiconductors these days. Microchips control the engine, the navigation system, and in-dash infotainment features, and other visible features around your car. They also collect data from sensors in the engine and around the car’s body, analyze that data to adjust the vehicle’s performance, and make sure your cruise control won’t make you hit the sedan in front of you.

In fact, automotive chips are so crucial to the manufacturing of new cars that a shortage of chipmaking capacity has limited the supply of new cars in the last couple of years. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and NXP saw automotive chip sales rise 36% year over year in the second quarter. Consumer demand is running high and automakers are accepting slow chip deliveries without canceling orders.

As one of the three largest chipmakers in this artificially constrained industry, NXP is a great nuts-and-bolts play on the auto sector in general. As electric vehicles need even more chips to control their battery systems and advanced sensor layouts, their growth will also do wonders for NXP’s top and bottom lines.

At the same time, NXP’s stock price has fallen more than 30% in 2022 and trades at a miserly price-to-earnings ratio of 17. This company’s long-term future is downright thrilling, and I’m sorely tempted to add a few more shares at these affordable prices.

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