Cars.com (NYSE:CARS) has a two-front marketing model. They need to market to the auto dealerships and consumers alike. Usually that’s not an ideal situation, but in this case it works out well for the company. Both of its marketing targets need the services that the company provides.
Auto dealers are slaves to their advertising. The clock starts ticking on every car as soon as its wheels hit their lot. The longer a vehicle sits at the dealership the higher the degree its margin drops. So they overspend on marketing to maintain their foot onto their lots.
On the other side of the equation, we have the consumers, and we all know how we we love our cars. And with the cheap money that is available right now, almost everybody with a job can afford a car they want.
So, our fascination with cars and our means will keep the demand high for services like this for years to come. Evidence of this is the popularity of similar companies that serve the same market. Carvana (NYSE:CVNA) stock is up 79% year to date.
CARS Stock Is In a Good Spot
This environment is not likely to change so the opportunity for CARS stock should also remain favorable for more upside. The U.S. Federal Reserve and the rest of the central banks globally are committed to keeping rates low for an extended period of time. Therefore cheap money will remain available. And for as long as the job market is as hot as it is right now, the car market will continue to thrive.
In addition, the company will continue to benefit from the electronic trend that is sweeping the world. We have committed to making every transaction in our lives electronic. The days of doing the research on foot are gone, and this is especially true for the automotive industry.
By the time we visit the dealership, we can already know all the features of the car we like and have a ton of reviews and rankings. We can even know the average price in a certain zip codes and the inventory that is available there. This is valuable to consumers and will remain an asset to the company.
So the field is set for the company, and it comes down to management’s execution. The company has been public for about two years and it’s not great that cars.com stock is down 15%. Sure, it has had its glory days, but since the high the stock set in July of 2018, it has been sliding inside of a descending channel four months.
Granted, last year was exceptionally sour for stocks in general as sentiment on Wall Street was terrible into the end of the year. But since then, this situation has flipped 180 degrees yet CARS still lags the S&P 500 by half. Clearly investors are not trusting of its ownership.
However, there is recent good news from the technical perspective, and therein lies the closest opportunity.
For the past 12 months, cars.com stock is down 20% while the S&P is up 10%. But there could be light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, it is still lagging the indices, but it is making positive strides. The range in which the stock has been trading is tightening drastically and coming to a point.
This usually builds up energy in the stock chart that needs to release itself in a big move. The direction of the move, however, is still unknown. But the body language of the chart is positive because it has been setting higher lows since the December bottom.
Catching falling knives like this is dangerous. However CARS stock is showing signs of a bottoming process. If the bulls can close above $24 per share in the next couple of weeks, they could invite momentum buyers. From there, they would have the opportunity to challenge $25.50 per share which was the most important pivotal area in a year.
It won’t be easy since these are zones where both bulls and bears agree on the price so they will fight it out hard thereby creating resistance on the way up. But if the bulls can prevail then they can overshoot and perhaps even attempt to recover January high.
Fundamentally, the stock is not cheap as it sells at 42 trailing price to earnings ratio. However it’s not extravagant when you consider the value of the company itself and its price to sales ratio of 2.3. So it sounds like management can improve its income statement just by controlling spending if they need to.
But then again the point of this write-up is technical, and knowing that there is value below to support the thesis is a good thing. I know that I’m not buying into a massive bubble that’s about to burst. Therefore it is an opportunity worth investigating.
So if I already own shares of CARS for the long term I’d hold them. Else the stock could be ready to pop if it triggers off $23.60 and then above $24.40 per share. And if the stock market in general continues to rally as it has been, CARS would have added wind in its sails.