Shares of Avis Budget Group Inc. (CAR) rallied to reach a new 52-week high of $29.53 on Tuesday, Apr 2, following the announcement of expanding its Taiwan operations on the previous day. Additionally, the shares of this global vehicle rental giant continue to gain from robust sales and improved earnings performance for the fourth quarter of 2012, an encouraging 2013 outlook, an aggressive expansion policy, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation and positive travel demand trends.
Average volume of shares traded over the last 3 months stands at approximately 1,884K. This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) car rental company closed trade at $28.19 on Apr 2, representing a solid year-to-date return of approximately 35.7%. Moreover, the stock currently trades at a forward P/E of 12.0x, at a 28.1% discount with the peer group average of 16.7x.
On Apr 1, Avis Car Rental entered into a partnership with Taiwan High Speed Rail (“THSR”) to provide rental services at 6 THSR stations in west Taiwan, thus expanding its total rental facility centers in Taiwan to 20. The company’s strategic move is backed by the rising car rental demand on the island as well as accelerating economic growth.
Moreover, Avis Budget remains aggressively focused on expanding its operations through acquisitions and joint ventures. In an effort to enhance its global footprints, the company is investing in other promising markets where car rental demand is speeding. Avis’ urge to exploit new avenues became evident from the recent acquisition of Zipcar Inc., wherein the company expanded its offerings from car rental to car sharing. We believe that these strategies along with better customer support systems will boost the company’s top line.
With respect to earnings surprises, the company has a history of beating the Zacks Consensus numbers. The company has posted positive surprises in 3 of the last 4 quarters. The average positive surprise in the trailing 4 quarters comes to 78.7%.
Avis Budget posted better-than-expected bottom line results for the fourth quarter of 2012, significantly narrowing its loss, benefitting from robust top-line performance as well as improved margins. Adjusted loss per share of $0.07 fared better than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $0.08 and improved 50% from a loss of $0.14 delivered in the prior-year quarter.
Avis Budget’s net revenue increased 4% to $1.698 billion from $1.630 billion in fourth-quarter 2011, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.641 billion.
Further, the company provided encouraging revenue and earnings outlook for 2013. The company expects full-year 2013 total revenue to come in between $7.6 billion and $7.8 billion, with adjusted earnings of $1.90–$2.45 per share.
Additionally, the company continues to witness significant strength driven by the positive travel demand trends, while the integration of its Avis Europe and Apex Car Rentals businesses is progressing smoothly. Moreover, it expects incremental cost savings from its Performance Excellence initiative as well as a 5-point cost-reduction and efficiency improvement plan, which should boost profitability.
Besides Avis, other stocks in the retail space that touched all-time highs on Apr 2 are Campbell Soup Company (CPB), Colgate-Palmolive Co. (CL) and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), reaching $46.45, $118.97 and $34.28, respectively.
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