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TE Connectivity is a good play in autos, this investor says

Portfolio manager Christine Poole likes electronic components and sensors company TE Connectivity (TE Connectivity Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials NYSE:TEL), saying while the rising EV industry is an important growth engine for TE, the company’s business plays into a lot of currently strong macro trends.

There are many ways to play the electrification of transportation as countries around the world look to switch from fossil fuel-burning cars, trucks, trains and ships to battery-power. Car-makers like Tesla and Rivian have certainly been fan favourites among investors, as have lithium and other critical materials miners. 

But a company like TE Connectivity has a lot going for it beyond the EV theme, says Poole, CEO and managing director at GlobeInvest Capital Management, who spoke on BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday.

“For TE Connectivity, the electrification of automobiles is part of their growth story but autos is only about 40 to 50 per cent of their overall revenue,” Poole said. And so, they’ve been able to grow their content per vehicle because of electric vehicles but 60 per cent of their growth comes from increasing electric vehicles on the road [while] the other 40 per cent actually comes from internal combustion engine [vehicles] because they say that with your regular gasoline powered cars, they’re also getting more electrified.”

“When you buy a new car now there are so many automation systems and sensoring capabilities, so that’s also contributing to their growth,” she said.

Switzerland-based TE Connectivity came out of Tyco Electronics which sold off its Broadband Network Solutions segment to CommScope for $3.0 billion in 2015 to become a more pure-play sensors and IoT connectivity business, one focusing on the so-called harsh environment market of sensors for measuring conditions like vibration, pressure and fluid properties, with autos and industrial as central applications.

TE’s business has grown over the years to now one with upwards of $16 billion in annual revenue. The company’s last reported quarter was its fiscal second 2022, delivered in late April, which saw TE hit $4.007 billion in sales, divided into $2.314 billion in Transportation Solutions, $1.075 billion in Industrial Solutions and $618 million in Communications Solutions. That topline was up seven per cent year-over-year, while net income for the Q2 was $560 million compared to $505 million a year earlier.

TE, which has a market cap of about $41 billion and sports a small dividend at a 1.6 per cent yield, had been a strong-performing stock over much of COVID, climbing from just under $100 per share at the start of 2020 to a top of $165 by November of this past year. But that’s when the market started rotating away from tech and into what are considered by some to be more defensive spaces, making for a pullback on TEL of now about 22 per cent. Year-to-date, the stock is currently down about 24 per cent.

But Poole likes the breadth of TE’s offerings.

“We like the fact that their exposure to Industrial plays into the factory automation theme and they have a Communications division which is benefiting from the growth for cloud infrastructure and cloud computing. So, all these growth areas, they’re playing in them, and TE will also make some acquisitions as well to grow their markets,” Poole said.

Poole compared TE Communications to another sensor and connectors company, Amphenol (Amphenol Corp Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials NYSE:APH), which has had a similarly rough ride over the past half-year. But Poole sees APH as a pricier option than TEL.

“Amphenol trades at a higher valuation than TE Connectivity and Amphenol is much more acquisitive in their growth and they’ve been very successful at their M&A strategy. It trades at a premium valuation which is important for us when we look at that sector as a whole,” Poole said.

Commenting in the second quarter press release on TE Connectivity’s progress through the challenging global environment, CEO Terrence Curtin pointed to the strong performance from TE’s three business segments over the fiscal Q2, saying, “All three of our business segments – Transportation, Industrial and Communications – contributed and delivered sales growth year-over-year, demonstrating the strategic positioning of our portfolio as we continue to benefit from our leadership position in long-term growth and sustainability trends.”

“We continue to outperform the market in both automotive and commercial transportation due to our Transportation segment’s ongoing content growth and global design win momentum in electric vehicles … Our order trends remained strong through the quarter, and we expect to deliver year-over-year sales growth in the third quarter despite broader volatility in the macro environment,” Curtin said.

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