At least on paper, since the automaker born of the Fiat-PSA merger is currently valued at three times earnings. That's less than Volkswagen (four times earnings), BMW (five times), Ford (seven times), Toyota (ten times), Geely (nineteen times), and of course Tesla (eighty-four times).
A few weeks ago, however, Stellantis published stunning half-year results, with sales of EUR98 billion and a record operating margin of 14%, i.e. profitability comparable to that of BMW, Tesla or Honda; higher than that of GM or Volkswagen; but still two notches below that of Toyota.
The Group's various brands - Jeep, Dodge, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Maserati, etc. - are lining up blockbusters. These include, of course, the Dodge Ram, the Peugeot 5008, the Fiat 500 and the Jeep Wrangler. In North America, Europe and emerging markets, the sauce is catching on everywhere.
The Group has taken advantage of these successes to move upmarket and raise its prices, without dampening the enthusiasm of its customers. At the same time, it is rapidly building up its electric range, aiming to reach 400GWh of capacity by 2030, including 250GWh installed in Europe - like Volkswagen.
With sales at an all-time high and thirty billion euros in excess cash on its balance sheet, the world's fourth-largest automaker appears to be in a strong position to make this transition. This, it's true, despite a possible start-up delay.
So why are investors so disinterested? Well, with the exception of Tesla, it's easy to see how investors have stayed away from the automotive sector since the great financial crisis of 2008, marked in particular by the catastrophic bankruptcy of General Motors.
Stellantis also has a transatlantic industrial footprint, a legal domicile in the Netherlands, a listing in Italy, a structure born of the merger of a French group with an Italian one, and a shareholding locked up by the Agnelli dynasty... Taken all together, it's all a bit confusing.
Another element: Carlos Tavares' clear-cut stance on China. The CEO has liquidated Jeep's local joint venture, and never misses an opportunity to sharply criticize the way political power is interwoven into the Chinese business landscape. Recently, he denounced the "invasion" of low-cost Chinese electric vehicles.
All this, in fact, flirts with common sense. Stellantis ex-Peugeot has already borne the full brunt of sanctions in Russia and Iran - where the group once occupied an arch-dominant competitive position. Tavares therefore speaks from experience when he anticipates the consequences of a possible "decoupling" between China and the West, which after all remains a historical constant, apart from a few occasional episodes of openness.
But investors may be apprehensive if Stellantis shuns the world's leading automotive market, which as it stands remains the golden goose for German competitors such as BMW and Mercedes... Is this a good choice? Everyone will have to decide for themselves.
Finally, there are reasons to fear an economic and sectoral peak in the cycle: economic, after ten years of zero or near-zero interest rates, which encouraged consumers to take on debt to finance the acquisition of new vehicles; and sectoral, after the shortage of used vehicles that drove new vehicle prices to very high levels.
In this respect, it may be risky to extrapolate Stellantis' current margins. With a few exceptions in the ultra-premium segment, returns on capital in the automotive industry are generally disappointing over long cycles. There is as yet no evidence that the gradual consolidation of the sector can change this dynamic.