Regardless of how long a trend has been in place, it can always change significantly. Hertz and Avis ruled the rental car business for decades but that dominance is coming to an end.
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CAR - Avis Budget Group - Company Profile
Avis Budget Group, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides car and truck rentals, car sharing, and ancillary services to businesses and consumers worldwide. The company operates through two segments, Americas and International. It operates the Avis brand car rental system with approximately 5,550 locations that supply rental cars to the premium commercial and leisure segments of the travel industry; the Budget brand vehicle rental system with approximately 4,050 car rental locations, which serve the value-conscious segments of the industry; and the Zipcar brand, a membership-based car sharing network that provides vehicles to approximately 1 million members. The company also operates the Payless brand, which comprises approximately 240 vehicle rental locations; the Apex brand primarily in the deep-value segment of the car rental industry with approximately 25 rental locations in New Zealand and Australia; and the Maggiore brand that provides vehicle rental services in the commercial, leisure, and insurance replacement/leasing segments with approximately 130 rental locations in Italy, as well as the France Cars brand, which offers light commercial vehicle fleets with approximately 60 rental locations in France. In addition, it is involved in the local and one-way truck rental businesses with a fleet of approximately 22,000 vehicles, which are rented through a network of approximately 1,000 dealers and 480 company-operated locations that serve the consumer and light commercial sectors in the continental United States. Further, it offers optional insurance products and coverages, such as supplemental liability, personal accident, personal effects protection, emergency sickness protection, automobile towing protection, and cargo insurance products. The company was formerly known as Cendant Corporation and changed its name to Avis Budget Group, Inc. in September 2006. Avis Budget Group, Inc. was founded in 1946. Company description from FinViz.com.
Avis has been in existence for more than 70 years. Who would have thought 70 years ago that you could someday pull a phone out of your pocket and have a Uber or Lyft at your location within minutes?
The rental car business is changing and within another 5 years, there may not be a driver in that car that picks you up. The business model for car rental companies is dying.
Adding to their woes are the falling prices for used cars and the changing mix of vehicles in the rental fleets. Hertz, Avis, Budget and Payless have been moving towards smaller and cheaper cars with better gas mileage but customers are demanding more SUVs to pack in all their family and luggage. This is also related to the Uber trend. Single travelers are more than likely to hail an Uber but families are more likely to rent a car. Because of this the mix of models in the fleets are suddenly all wrong. The companies do not want to invest in an SUV fleet since those models can cost more than twice as much as the smaller passenger cars. When you are buying cars by the thousands, this price difference is material.
In their recent earnings Avis reported a loss of 94 cents compared to estimates for a loss of 51 cents and a loss of only 28 cents in the year ago quarter. Revenues of $1.839 billion missed estimates for $1.854 billion and declined due to higher fleet costs and pricing pressures.
Earnings August 2nd.
Hertz reported a similar earnings disaster.
The sector is in decline and it is not likely to recover soon.
Shares closed at a multiyear low on Monday.
Sell short CAR shares, currently $21.44, initial stop loss $23.40.
Alternate position: Buy July $20 put, currently $1.20. Initial stop loss $23.40.
Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 at the market open.