Investors are underestimating a buying opportunity in Chinese EV maker Great Wall Motor, which could double its earnings from current levels, according to Ariel Investments. “Great Wall, in my view, is the one where investors are most likely to be positively surprised by their market share gains,” said Henry Mallari-D’Auria, chief investment officer of emerging markets value at Chicago-based Ariel. The Chinese SUV and pickup truck maker was named by the investment chief as a company to watch at a recent emerging markets panel. Great Wall Motor is a holding in the Ariel Emerging Markets Value portfolio, which had a 2.28% allocation to the stock as of June. The $10.4-million portfolio is a separately managed account within Ariel. Great Wall competes against rival Chinese EV makers BYD Company and Geely, and has seen its U.S.-traded shares, an unsponsored American Depositary Receipt, fall 9% this year. In terms of market capitalization, Great Wall is twice the size of Geely — owner of Polestar and Volvo — but far smaller than BYD, perhaps best known in the U.S. for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment starting in 2008. But Mallari-D’Auria said he expects Great Wall will grab market share in China as it increasingly builds out an SUV line with vehicles at higher price points. He expects the steeper prices will help Great Wall improve its profit margins. Historically, investors assumed Great Wall could earn a 3%-5% profit margin, according to the money manager. However, he said the model upgrades could help the automaker push margins close to 9% or 10%. “So there’s the opportunity for investors to have missed out on understanding how significantly the SUV launches will change Great Wall’s profitability,” Mallari-D’Auria said. “I think that Great Wall’s earnings can double from here and that means significant upside for the stock” over the next 18 to 24 months, possibly gains of “very high double-digit” percentages. To be sure, there are risks around trading in Great Wall, whose primary listing is in Hong Kong. In July, JPMorgan analyst Nick Lai had a neutral rating on the EV maker, saying Great Wall could fail to differentiate its brand in a fiercely competitive sector. What’s more, weaker consumer sentiment in China has hurt demand this year for autos. However, Mallari-D’Auria expects demand will recover as the economy improves and as the Chinese government takes measures to boost spending, particularly around the country’s beleaguered property sector. “We do think that gradual improvement in the economy, and therefore incomes, will help improve consumer sentiment,” he said. “And we would expect some further steps by the government to support real estate developers as part of that effort to keep consumer sentiment improving.” Over the longer term, the portfolio manager even expects Great Wall will start to gain market share in Europe, though the near-term opportunity remains at home. — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.