Barclays: Buy GM for its 'first-mover advantage' in autonomous vehicles over Tesla, others

  • Barclays reiterates its overweight rating for GM shares, saying the company will attain a large market share of the new autonomous vehicle market.
  • The company's technology day "reinforced to us GM's first-mover advantage and the opportunity ahead in mobility — leading us to reiterate our view that GM is due for a multiple re-rating," the firm's analyst writes.

General Motors' leading position in autonomous vehicle technology is underestimated by the market, according to one Wall Street firm.

Barclays reiterated its overweight rating for the automaker's shares, saying the company will attain a large market share of the new AV market.

GM held a technology day for analysts and investors Thursday.

"The day reinforced to us GM's first-mover advantage and the opportunity ahead in mobility — leading us to reiterate our view that GM is due for a multiple re-rating," analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a note to clients Friday. "GM is making considerable progress in securing a role in a future world of disruptive mobility (shared autonomous driving) … GM reiterated its advantage in providing a fully integrated autonomous solution, addressing every element of the stack — both hardware and software."

Johnson was able to take a drive in General Motors' autonomous vehicle.

"It was impressive. There were no disengagements. While the vehicle drove conservatively (i.e., taking time, strictly obeying speed limits, checking carefully at both sides before turning at an intersection), we'd also note that the driving environment was quite complex," he wrote.

The company said the AV market could be as large as $750 billion with 20 to 30 percent operating profit margins for the ride-sharing business, according to the analyst. He said it is reasonable for GM to take 10 percent share of the market given its "first mover" advantage.

As a result, Johnson raised his price target for General Motors shares to $57 from $55, representing 32 percent upside to Thursday's close.

General Motors shares are up 24 percent this year through November versus the S&P 500's 18 percent return.

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