Carsales.Com Ltd expands in Chile: Is it a buy?

Credit: niconico0

One of the most attractive attributes of Carsales.Com Ltd (ASX: CAR) for long-term shareholders is its network of subsidiary, partly-owned websites in countries such as Korea, Brazil, and Mexico. Carsales also has some exposure to Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia through its ~20% shareholding in iCar Asia Ltd (ASX: ICQ).

Each of these countries has a substantially greater population than Australia as well as fast-growing economies and substantially lower levels of individual car ownership that offer long-term ‘blue sky’ potential to complement Carsales’ existing Australian website powerhouse.

Carsales added to that potential today, when it announced the acquisition of an 83% stake in Chileautos, the number one automotive classifieds website in Spanish-speaking Chile. Chile is the strongest Latin American economy as measured by GDP per capita, and Chileautos appears to be a natural bolt-on acquisition as an already-profitable and established website. The previous owners retain 17% of Chileautos, which can be bought out by Carsales at any time during the next four years.

Carsales already owns websites in other strong Latin American economies like Brazil and Mexico, and the acquisition of Chileautos will allow the company to leverage work it has already completed on developing Spanish language technology in Mexico.

Chileautos is expected to make an immediate, but not material, contribution to Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortisation (EBITDA) and will be earnings-accretive from its first full year of ownership. The acquisition cost Carsales US$15m, funded from existing cash reserves and debt facilities. Carsales previously had A$32m in cash and A$232m in debt as at 31 December 2015.

Carsales CEO Greg Roebuck was characteristically bullish, describing Chileautos as a ‘great addition‘ and reaffirming Carsales’ aim to be a ‘compelling number one in all our markets around the world, not just an interesting player.’ The immediate acquisition of a majority stake in Chileautos was a departure from usual practice at Carsales (which has previously built its stake in companies over time) and could reflect both the attractiveness of the deal and management’s confidence in the opportunity.

Carsales shares were down 1% to $11.81 at the time of writing.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill owns shares of Limited and iCarAsia Limited. 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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