Should you buy Carsales.Com Ltd today?

Credit: Axion23

Australia’s leading automotive listing website operator, Carsales.Com Ltd (ASX: CAR), is one of those rare shares I feel investors are able to buy and forget about.

In the last five years it has provided its shareholders with an average total annual return of a massive 22%.

Much like fellow great technology shares REA Group Limited (ASX: REA) and SEEK Limited (ASX: SEK), this incredible level of growth looks like it might continue for many years to come. Carsales has been backing up this growth through numerous acquisitions, which I believe will be accretive to earnings in the future.

The company now owns a 65% stake in SoloAutos, the Mexican version of I feel that Mexico’s burgeoning population means that SoloAutos has the potential to grow to a size even greater than Carsales’ Australian business one day.

This acquisition complements its growing network which has exposure to Brazil, South Korea, and much of Asia through its 20% ownership of iCar Asia Ltd (ASX: ICQ). All of which posted strong results in its recent half-year report.

On home soil, Carsales does face strong competition for listings from eBay-owned Gumtree, Drive, and CarsGuide. But the good news is that the company is winning the battle hands down, with research from Nielsen late last year revealing Carsales had significantly more unique visitors on desktop, mobile, and tablet than its nearest competitor Gumtree.

In my opinion, the future looks very bright for Carsales and its investors. Analysts appear to agree, and, according to CommSec, expect earnings to grow at 12% per year through to 2018. Considering the company has a tendency to pay out approximately 80% of its earnings as dividends, this is a growth share that could even appeal to income investors.

The shares currently trade at 25.7x estimated forward earnings. This is slightly ahead of the average for the information technology industry, which sits at 22.2x estimated forward earnings, but very much in line with where it has traded in the last six years.

Foolish takeaway

With its market-leading position, growth internationally, and robust balance sheet, I feel Carsales is a great investment which you really do not need to babysit. This peace of mind can be hard to find in the investment world, which is why I think Carsales is one of the best shares on the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO).

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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