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The 2015 All-Europe Research Team: Autos & Auto Parts, No. 1: Max Warburton

Sanford C. Bernstein earns its fifth consecutive first-place finish.

Max Warburton
Sanford C. Bernstein
First-Place Appearances: 5

Total Appearances: 7

Team Debut: 2007

Sanford C. Bernstein earns its fifth consecutive first-place finish. Now working solo, Singapore-based Max Warburton, 40, reports on seven regional automakers and monitors an additional nine companies throughout Asia. Among his European favorites is automaker Peugeot. In January 2014, Warburton upgraded the French manufacturer from market perform to outperform. Regional sales were improving, and he was optimistic about new management. Peugeot had tapped former Renault chief operating officer Carlos Tavares to succeed Philippe Varin as CEO and, eventually, chair its management board. When he boosted Peugeot’s stock, the analyst also elevated Tavares’s old company from underperform to outperform, crediting better volume assumptions in Europe and emerging markets, as well as Renault’s large ownership stake in Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. Four and a half months later, however, Renault sales in Brazil and Russia were declining, and he downgraded the stock to market perform. By that time, it had jumped 13.1 percent, to €69.41, while the sector rose by 7.9 percent. Subsequently, it slipped to €68.21 at the end of last month, trailing the broader group by 11.3 percentage points. Peugeot, on the other, continues to enjoy vigorious sales so remains attractive, Warburton believes. Its shares had soared 55.2 percent from his upgrade through January 2015, closing at €12.85 and outdistancing its peers by 36.9 percentage points. He projects a rise to €15. “In a period of negligible European sales growth and increasingly complicated emerging-market conditions, automakers will need self-help stories to outperform,” the researcher says, adding that Peugeot “looks like the fastest-moving self-help story.”

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