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Avis (CAR) Reports Loss in Q1; Outlook Boosts Stock

Avis Budget Group Inc. CAR posted dismal bottom-line results for first-quarter 2016, largely impacted by lower pricing in the Americas region, foreign currency headwinds and seasonal factors – which usually lead to soft first-quarter outcome.

Despite the soft results, Avis raised its 2016 revenue projections, alongside reaffirming its earnings and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) guidance, thus boosting investor sentiment as was reflected by a 2.6% rise in the stock price in the after-market trading session.

The Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) company reported adjusted loss per share of 28 cents, wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 11 cents. In the year-ago quarter, it had recorded earnings of 17 cents per share. Sources revealed that the first-quarter loss was mainly a result of increased spending.  

On a GAAP basis, the company posted a loss of 53 cents per share, wider than the year-ago period loss of 9 cents.

On the positive side, net revenue climbed 2% to $1,881 million. However, the figure marginally missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,884 million. The year-over-year improvement in the top line was mainly driven by an 8% rise in rental days (including the Maggiore acquisition).

Adjusted EBITDA slumped 62% to $44 million, as adverse impact from currency fluctuations, unfavorable pricing and higher fleet costs more than offset greater rental volumes.

Segment Performance

Americas reported a 1% year-over-year revenue drop to $1,364 million, owing to a 5% fall in pricing (even on a currency-neutral basis), somewhat compensated by 3% volume growth. These factors also caused the adjusted EBITDA to plunge 45% to $63 million, which bore the brunt of increased per unit fleet costs as well, partly offset by improved fleet utilization.  

The International segment’s revenues advanced 9% year over year to $517 million, driven by a 21% rise in rental days, partially offset by a 5% negative impact from currency movements and a 5% fall in pricing (on a currency neutral basis and including Maggiore’s buyout of Apr 2015). Adjusted EBITDA for the segment slumped 94% to $1 million, while the same increased on a currency neutral basis, gaining from enhanced volumes and fleet costs.

Financials

Avis Budget ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $876 million, and total corporate debt of $3,838 million. As of Mar 31, 2016, the company’s shareholders’ equity was $371 million. During the quarter, the company generated $463 million as cash flow from operating activities.

During the first quarter, Avis bought back nearly 3 million shares worth $80 million. Management expects to generate free cash flow worth $450–$500 million in 2016, alongside making share buybacks of $300–$400 million.

Further, the company concluded a senior notes offering worth $350 million in Mar 2016, which is due 2024, bearing a coupon rate of 6.375%. Also, the company’s Avis Budget Rental Car Funding subsidiary made a $450 million worth of five-year vehicle-backed notes issuance, bearing a weighted-average interest rate of 3.25%.

Other Developments

Keeping pace with the technological advancements, Avis successfully closed the roll-out of its new website, along with the mobile-app technologies to 12 European nations. Also, the company is on track with the global growth and implementation of its Demand-Fleet-Pricing yield-management tools. Finally, Avis conducted a study of “self-service” vehicle rental capacities at its domestic locations.

Guidance

The company now anticipates sales to grow in a range of 3%–5% to $8.75–$8.9 billion in 2016, compared with the previous projection of 2%–4% growth to $8.7–$8.85 billion. Currency headwinds are now expected to have a minimal impact on sales.

The company’s Americas segment rental days are estimated to grow 2%–4%, while pricing is anticipated to dip nearly 1% on a currency-neutral basis. Further, the company expects international revenue to increase 7%–10% on a currency-neutral basis.

Adjusted EBITDA is projected to be in the range of $820–$900 million, which is now anticipated to include a $20 million negative impact from foreign exchange movements, down from $30 million expected earlier. Also, it includes an impact of over $50 million from additional investments.

Per-unit fleet costs in the Americas for 2016 are estimated to jump 3%–5% and range from $305–$313 million per month. Per-unit fleet costs for the International segment are expected to range from a 1% drop to a 3% increase, to roughly $225–$235 million per month. Per-unit fleet costs for the total company are anticipated to be about $280–$290 million per month.

Interest expense pertaining to corporate debt is expected to be nearly $205 million. The company’s non-vehicle depreciation and amortization costs guidance (excluding the amortization of intangibles related to acquisitions) is pegged at about $190 million.

The company’s effective tax rate in 2016 is expected to be 39%, while diluted shares outstanding are projected to lie in a band of 94–96 million.

Based on the abovementioned expectations, the company reiterated its adjusted earnings guidance, envisioning the same in a range of $2.70–$3.30 per share. However, earnings are now expected to bear the brunt of currency headwinds to an extent of 12 cents a share, down from 17 cents guided earlier.

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks in the same industry include PRGX Global, Inc. PRGX, Vectrus, Inc. VEC and Viad Corp VVI, each with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. http://www.zacks.com/registration/pfp/?ALERT=RPT_7BST_LP194&... blog">Click to get this free report >>


Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
AVIS BUDGET GRP (CAR): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
VIAD CORP (VVI): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
PRGX GLOBAL INC (PRGX): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
VECTRUS INC (VEC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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