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Analyst adds Ferrari, Penske to list of top auto stocks for 2019

Key Points
  • Ferrari is an auto stock to watch in 2019 as the Italian manufacturer plans to significantly expand its production over the next seven years, Consumer Edge Research's Jamie Albertine says.
  • He also recommends buying shares of Penske in 2019 because the company is focusing more on used vehicles as consumers opt for older models.
There is a lot of opportunity in auto dealers, says Consumer Edge analyst

Brands like Penske and Ferrari could be some of the top auto stocks to buy in the new year, Consumer Edge Research's Jamie Albertine told CNBC on Wednesday.

The automotive research analyst's recommendation follows his November call that higher used-car sales could extend into 2019 "in a major way."

Carrying a high return on invested capital, or ROIC, Penske Automotive Group has begun moving into the used car retail business, he said. The Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based company is looking to attract customers seeking value on the used car market, allowing Penske to compete with platforms like Carmax and Carvana, which Albertine said last month has taken advantage of an industry under pressure from tariffs and changing consumer tastes.

"Penske's getting into standalone used sales [with] a lot more force," he said on CNBC's "Closing Bell," adding that he has seen a "pivot" among consumers "from new- to late-model used vehicles as the off-lease supply comes back to market."

Penske shares climbed 2.59 percent on Wednesday amid a marketwide surge, but the stock is down more than 16 percent for the year.

Italian luxury sports car manufacturer Ferrari's stock is another one to watch as the company ramps up production from the 9,000 units it makes annually to north of 14,000 a year, Albertine said. The company is planning to boost car production by as much as 55 percent over the next seven years, he added.

"From a brand perspective, [Ferrari has] one of the most protected customer-loyal brands in the history of luxury, broadly," he said.

"So, again, focus on quality there, but also some key EBIT margin expansion [and] production expansion, over the ... near to medium term," he said, referring to earnings before interest and taxes, a corporate profitability measure.

Ferrari bounced from a 52-week low Wednesday morning and gained more than 2 percent intraday. The stock is down more than 6 percent from the start of 2018.

Albertine also mentioned General Motors as a stock to watch as the company makes progress in the autonomous vehicle sector with Cruise Automation. Shares of the embattled automaker rose 3.55 percent Wednesday, but have lost over 18 percent for 2018.