The gradual recovery of European economies could boost demand for upscale cars and trucks, which may help the share price of Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) extend its recent big gains, Barron's said in its March 10 edition.
Daimler trades at about 12 times projected 2014 profit, above the 10 multiple for BMW parent Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMWG.DE) and 8 multiple for Audi parent Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), following a 48 percent jump in its share price in the last year, the business weekly said.
But another 19 percent increase in the share price over the next 12 months, to 80 euros from 67.44 euros, could be in the offing because strong products at numerous price points position the German automaker to benefit from a possible "pronounced uptick" in demand from Western Europe, the newspaper said.
Daimler's profit per share may grow 17 percent in 2014 and 2015, topping respective gains of 14 percent and 13 percent at Volkswagen and 2 percent and 5 percent at BMW, it said.
Parts of the gains may be seen in compact cars such as the A-class and B-class, whose sales grew 66 percent last year and accounted for a fourth of the 1.57 million cars that Daimler sold in 2013, the paper said.
Meanwhile in the United States, the new CLA sedan, whose base price is just below $30,000, has drawn buyers whose average age is just 45, which is 10 years below that of the typical Mercedes-Benz customer, it added.
Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche is counting on compacts as well as the new high-end S-class models to boost sales, without having to rely on heavy discounts that can reduce margins.
The company is also introducing more cars that share large numbers of common parts, which can reduce development and production costs.
According to Barron's, the truck business, including the Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, and Western Star brands, is also in position to boost sales, helped by rising orders from North America and its use of engines that comply with tough European environmental standards.
Daimler also has American depositary receipts that trade under the ticker "DDAIY" DDAIY.PK.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by G Crosse)