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Never underestimate America's love affair with the car. Superior Industries International Inc. (SUP - Analyst Report) just blew away the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter by 141% as wheel sales and unit shipments jumped. Even as shares have soared, this Zacks #1 Rank (strong buy) is still a value stock with a forward P/E of 12.6.

Superior is a good gauge on auto demand as it is the largest manufacturer of aluminum wheels for passenger cars and light-duty vehicles in North America. It operates 5 plants in the U.S. and Mexico.

The company's largest customers include most of the big auto names such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volkswagen.

Sales Soar 72% in 2010

On Mar 16, Superior reported its fourth quarter and full year results and crushed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter. Earnings were 82 cents compared to the consensus of just 34 cents. It lost 15 cents per share in the year ago quarter.

Sales jumped 32% in the fourth quarter to $191 million from $145 million and soared 72% to $719.5 million for the full year.

Sales volume increased 18% in the fourth quarter while the average selling price of wheels also rose 13% due to the increase in aluminum prices.

The sales volume increase reflected higher shipments to all customers compared with the year ago period. For example, unit shipments to Ford rose by 20%, to GM by 8% and 40% to international customers.

Outlook for 2011

The company saw strong demand from all its customers in 2010 and was able to outpace the auto recovery. Volumes rose 54% compared with a 40% increase in North America in production of passenger cars and light-duty vehicles.

Looking at 2011, the company has seen the strong momentum continuing.

It is actively evaluating options to increase production levels.

Zacks Consensus Estimates Climb

Not surprisingly, given the big fourth quarter beat and optimistic outlook, analysts have been raising 2011 and 2012 estimates in the last week.

2 estimates moved higher for 2011 in the prior 7 days, pushing the Zacks Consensus up to $1.97 from $1.73 per share. That is EPS growth of 11%.

For 2012, the Zacks Consensus has also moved up 4 cents to $2.15 per share. That is another 9% earnings growth.

Shares Spiked Higher But Still Solid Fundamentals

After the earnings results, shares surged to multi-year highs.

Superior has attractive valuations. Not only is its P/E fairly low, but it has a price-to-book of just 1.6, well under the 3.0 value cut-off.

It also has a price-to-sales ratio of 0.9 which indicates value as it's under 1.0.

Additionally, Superior has a solid 1-year return on equity (ROE) of 12.1%.

The company also rewards shareholders with a juicy dividend yielding 3.3%.

Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. She is also the Editor in charge of the market-beating Zacks Value Trader service. You can follow her at twitter.com/traceyryniec.

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