BUZZ-Cars.com: Accelerates to record high on Starboard stake

Dec 19 (Reuters) - ** Shares of the online automotive

marketplace rise 9.4 pct at 30.50 premarket, set to hit record high

** Starboard Value LP reports 9.9 pct stake in CARS as of Dec. 6, saying stock is undervalued, per SEC filing

** Starboard believes the market is betting heavily against CARS and ignoring the potential for a sale, including to a PE firm, the WSJ reports, citing people familiar with the matter

** Starboard also sees potential for Cars.com to improve margins when it no longer has to share a large chunk of sales with the media companies that once controlled it, WSJ says

** CARS was spun off from Tegna Inc, formerly Gannett, in June, and has gained about 40 pct since then (Reporting by Savio D'Souza in Bengaluru)