Sales Reports

AutoNation Lifts Annual Used Sales 9 Percent

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - 

AutoNation hosted its fourth-quarter earnings conference call for 2014 on Tuesday, revealing several all-time earnings-related records for the company on both a quarterly and yearly basis.

But first starting with the used-market results, the company’s retail used vehicle unit sales for the fourth quarter of 2014 increased by 9 percent overall, to 53,534 units. On a same-store basis, it was at 52,546 units, reflecting a 7-percent increase. For the entire year, total used units sold jumped to 214,910, marking a 9-percent increase. Same-store figures for the year showed 210,702 used units sold for the year, or a 3.5-percent increase over 2013’s results.

In comparison, AutoNation’s new sales for the year were only slightly better, showing a 9-percent overall increase in sales at 318,008 units in 2014, or, on a same-store basis, a 7-percent increase, at 311,128 units sold.

Total revenue for the year was up 9 percent compared to 2013, up to $19.1 billion, while Q4’s total revenue hauled in $5 billion, a 12-percent increase over the previous year’s results. Operating income was up 11 percent and 12 percent for the year and quarter, respectively, at $821 million for the year and $227 for the fourth quarter.

“We are very pleased with our strong year-over-year growth across all areas of our business, as well as our 17th consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year growth in EPS,” said Mike Jackson, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “This quarter and year we set another record for the highest ever quarterly and annual EPS from continuing operations.”

The company’s EPS from continuing operations was an all-time record of $1.02, a 23-percent increase compared to the Q4 2013. For the year, the adjusted EPS from continuing operations was $3.49, up 17 percent compared to 2013.

“We are expecting U.S. industry new-vehicle unit sales above 17 million in 2015,” Jackson added.


Value of Used Sales Approaches $27 Billion

BANDON, Ore. - 

There was close to $27 billion in used-vehicle sales last month, as dealers and private individuals combined to move 2.38 million used units, according to CNW Research.

The firm reported Sunday that most of the 2-percent year-over-year increase in used unit sales came from franchised dealers, whose numbers were up 4.63 percent.  Private-party sales also climbed (up 3.42 percent), while the independent dealers showed a 1.86-percent dip.

The combined value of all the used cars sold last month was 22.6 percent higher than the total from January 2014, as CNW said the opening figure from 2015 was more than $26.8 billion.

In what CNW says shouldn’t come as a surprise, there wasn’t as much foot traffic on dealership lots as there was in December — in fact, it was down 30 percent. But this is a typical December-to-January pattern, the firm said.

One trend to watch may be the number of consumers leaving their own cities to get a used car.  There was more than a 12-percent year-over-year hike in shoppers buying outside the local market, according to CNW.  

“Consumers continue shopping outside of their local markets in growing numbers, hunting the best deals and specific vehicles, using the Internet to find a specific car or truck,” CNW president Art Spinella said in the analysis accompanying the sales figures. 

Touch of Gray: Today’s Monochromatic Leasing Market

CINCINNATI - 

Black, white, or somewhere in-between — according to Swapalease.com, roughly 8 out of 10 of the vehicles in its car lease marketplace fall into that category.

The colors, including various grays and silvers, have proliferated in recent years, far outpacing the blues, reds and other colors that used to fill a far larger portion of the roadways.

Swapalease data, which dates back to the company’s inception in late 1990s, continues to reflect on the dominance of black in the leasing market.

Nearly a third – 31.4 percent, to be exact — of vehicles in its system are black. White is the second most popular choice, at 19.6 percent, trailed by silver (13.6 percent), dark gray (9.1 percent) and gray (6.5 percent) — equaling up to 79.9 percent of all vehicles in the Swapalease system.

“Red and blue were much more prominent in the Swapalease.com marketplace in the early and mid-200s, but since around 2005 the popularity of grayscale cars and trucks began to emerge,” said Scot Hall, the company’s executive vice president. “If anything, silver led the grayscale renaissance, but since the recession, varying forms of exotic grays have become more popular with drivers and car shoppers.”

The current market’s grayscale dominance continues from last year, where 76.5 percent of the marketplace consisted of monochromatic colors.

The first color outside of the grayscale to pop into Swapalease’s top 10 was red, making up 5.2 percent of its vehicles, followed by blue (3.6 percent), dark blue (2.6 percent), brown (1 percent) and dark red (1 percent).

To put those numbers in perspective, a PPG Industries release near the end of last year showed that white was the most popular color for new vehicles in 2014, both nationally and globally, making up 23 percent of North American vehicles and averaging nearly 30 percent on every other continent in the world. Black (18 percent), gray (16 percent) and silver (15 percent) followed white in North America, followed by red (10 percent).

“Car manufacturers across the world are continually seeking new ways to create a unique appearance for models and vehicle brands,” Jane Harrington — PPG manager, color styling, automotive OEM coatings — said in the news release. “As color selection takes place two or three years in advance of a model year, it is important for auto makers to combine color popularity with global consumer trends.

Today, automotive manufacturers can choose from a broad array of colors as well as a wide assortment of variations of conservative hues such as white, silver, black and gray, and distinct effects such as micas, glass flakes, fine bright aluminum and hue-shifting pigments.”

Light Truck Sales Fueled by Low Gas Prices

SAN FRANCISCO - 

NADA announced today at its annual conference in San Francisco that it is expecting the lower cost of gasoline to continue to increase sales for light trucks in 2015.

Original sales projections by the NADA predicted 16.4 million new-vehicle sales for 2014, which was on target – the association is expecting an estimated 16.94 million in sales of new vehicles and light trucks in 2015.

Of that nearly 17 million in expected sales, the NADA predicts that, due to the lower cost of fuel, 56 percent will be comprised of light trucks and SUVs, while 44 percent will be cars.

“Consumers are more able to spend for extras because of declining gasoline prices and continued low interest rates,” said Steven Szakaly, NADA chief economist.

“We expect to see significant growth in sales of light trucks, particularly in the large-size CUV and SUV segments,” Szakaly added. “At the end of the day, consumers like the utility and comfort that larger vehicles provide. Lower gasoline prices accelerate that shift.”

In other segments, small and midsized vehicles are likely to face a rougher market than their truck counterparts, but Szakaly expects the incentives on these vehicles to rise. Hybrid sales are also expected to remain slow as long as fuel prices remain low.

“The one area where prices and segment share are likely to remain stable is in the luxury segment,” Szakaly said. “A strong luxury brand, in any retail business, will hold extra goodwill that a consumer is willing to pay for.”

The NADA expects the GDP to rise 3.1 percent this year, with potential growth beyond that. It perceives little threat of inflation, although key policy rates from the Federal Reserve are expected to rise 50 basis points by the end of 2015.

“The U.S. economy is poised to accelerate in 2015,” Szakaly said. “The only negative remains stagnant wages. If we see some sustained rise in incomes, GDP could easily exceed our forecast.

“Interest rates have to raise, admittedly the chaos in some overseas markets and the strong deflationary pressures from a rising U.S. dollar and a slowing Chinese economy leave room for rates to rise slowly.”

Overall, Szakaly says all signs seem to point in an optimistic direction.

“The bottom line is that it will be a good year for consumers with great products that last longer, are more fuel efficient and are safer than ever before,” Szakaly said. “It’s always been about consumer choice and the benefits of a competitive market, and that is definitely what we have.”

Used-Car Industry Healthy, Poised for Solid Year

SAN FRANCISCO - 

Manheim released its 2015 Used Car Market Report at the NADA Convention on Friday, highlighting a positive outlook for the used vehicle market heading into the new year.

The company pointed out several key topics for 2014, including growth in wholesale volumes, new and used vehicles, and stability in wholesale pricing. Tom Webb, the chief economist at Cox Automotive, says you should expect a similar pace to continue this year.

“While last year was a banner year for growth and stability in the used-vehicle market, we anticipate that we’ll see the sixth consecutive year of increased new vehicle sales in 2015,” Webb said. “These sales increases will drive auction volumes higher for many years to come. This, the increased importance of the used vehicle market, will reinforce remarketing’s critical link in the automotive ecosystem.”

The following is an overview of the findings from the report, provided by Manheim:

Overall New and Used Vehicle Markets

  • New-vehicle sales rose for the fifth consecutive year in 2014.
  • At just over 42 million, used-vehicle sales were virtually unchanged from 2013.

Vehicle Remarketing Industry

  • National Automobile Auction Association (NAAA) volumes increased 5 percent to 8.6 million and are expected to continue growing.
  • After declining in the previous two years, wholesale used vehicle prices increased 1.5 percent in 2014.
  • The last four years have shown the least volatility in wholesale pricing since the inception of the Manheim Used Vehicle Index in 1995.

Dealers

  • Used-vehicle operations produced record profits.
  • Certified pre-owned sales totaled a record 2.3 million units.
  • Dealer consignment volumes at wholesale auctions remained at historically high levels.

Rental

  • Rental industry revenue grew for the fifth-straight year to a record $26.1 billion.
  • Weather and recalls presented rental car companies with challenges and opportunities in 2014.

Leasing

  • Lease originations exceeded 3.5 million for the first time since 1999.
  • The rise in off-lease volume in 2014 was only the beginning, considering that new lease originations have been on a steady rise for five years.

Repossessions

  • Repossessions increased 8 percent in 2014 to an estimated 1.5 million.
  • Total auto loans outstanding rose to nearly $1 trillion by year's end.

Fleet

  • New car and light-duty vehicle purchases into commercial and government fleets increased by 7 percent to 850,000 units in 2014.
  • Wholesale prices for end-of-service fleet vehicles were at record highs in early 2014 but eventually dipped below 2013 and 2012 levels.

International and Export Markets

  • The overall global new-car market reached 43 million units in the first half of 2014.
  • China continues to be the largest new car market in the world, while Brazil lost its fourth place position to Germany in 2014 and the U.K. overtook Russia for seventh place.
  • Increased confidence in buying on the Internet has led to international dealers relying more heavily on these platforms to buy used cars from the U.S. and other markets.

Salvage

  • Prices for salvage units at Manheim auctions increased modestly and volumes rose by 8,000 units.
  • The trend of international buyers acquiring vehicles from salvage auctions continued.

The report can be accessed in .

AutoNation’s Annual New-Car Sales Rise 8%

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - 

Fueled by a double-digit gain in December, AutoNation turned 8 percent more new vehicles in 2014 compared to the previous year.

The largest publicly traded dealer group reported on Tuesday that company franchised dealerships retailed 320,804 new models. The new-vehicle unit sales for AutoNation's operating segments were as follows:

— 97,656 for domestic, up 6 percent versus 2013

— 157,096 for import, up 8 percent versus 2013

— 66,052 for premium luxury, up 13 percent versus 2013

On a same-store basis, AutoNation reported that retail new-vehicle unit sales for the year increased 6 percent year-over-year.

To close 2014, AutoNation store sold 33,069 new vehicles in December, representing an increase of 12 percent year-over-year.

For the month, retail new-vehicle unit sales for AutoNation's operating segments settled as follows:

— 9,497 for domestic, up 11 percent versus last December

— 14,721 for import, up 6 percent versus last December

— 8,851 for premium luxury, up 23 percent versus last December

On a same-store basis, AutoNation’s December new-vehicle unit sales climbed 10 percent compared to the same month a year earlier.

Finally, looking at the fourth-quarter sales chart, AutoNation enjoyed a 9-percent compared to Q4 of 2013, turning 84,968 new vehicles. The breakdown of that figure came in as follows:

— 24,991 for domestic, up 9 percent versus Q4 of 2013

— 39,556 for import, up 8 percent versus Q4 of 2013

— 20,421 for premium luxury, up 12 percent versus Q4 of 2013

On a same-store basis, AutoNation’s Q4 improvement marked a 7-percent jump year-over-year.

AutoNation expects to report January retail new-vehicle unit sales on Feb. 3.

Value of Dec. Used Sales Approaches $36 Billion

BANDON, Ore. - 

Thanks in part to surging sales of 1- to 5-year-old vehicles — right in the wheelhouse of many certified pre-owned programs — the total value of all used cars sold industry-wide last month climbed more than 16 percent year-over-year and reached a whopping sum of $35.8 billion, according to CNW Research.

The firm said in an analysis released Monday that sales of these later-model vehicles — a good portion of which were, in fact, sold as CPO units — rose 28.3 percent in December, helping to drive up the total value of used vehicles sold.

For franchised dealers, the total value of their used-car sales in December was nearly $20 billion, which was ahead of December 2013 figures by 18.4 percent.

The figure was at $8.5 billion at independent dealerships (a 7.5-percent hike), while the value of private-party sales was $7.3 billion, a 22-percent increase.

These increases occurred despite used unit sales decreasing in December for both franchised dealers, which were down more than 5 percent, and independents, whose sales fell close to 3 percent.

CNW did note, however, that transaction prices for franchised dealers had jumped more than 3 percent month-over-month.

Overall, there were 3.32 million used sales in December, compared to 3.28 million in December 2013. This capped a relatively strong year for used-car sales

How Shoppers Find Your Inventory

As far as where buyers are turning to buy these cars, CNW has found that many more are hitting the road and getting out of town. In fact, there was a 23-percent month-over-month increase in the number of buyers who ventured to a neighboring market to buy their car.

In perhaps a related trend, just under 4.5 million buyers said they were motivated to visit a dealership by something Web-related, which is 37.13 percent higher than year-ago figures. Meanwhile, the number of shoppers who were prompted by a print newspaper ad (4.44 million) was down 18.7 percent.

“That is the first time Internet motivation exceeded print newspapers,” CNW president Art Spinella said in the firm’s analysis.

42 Million-Plus Used Sales in 2014

BANDON, Ore. - 

Last year was a steady and productive one in the used-car market: there were more than 42 million used vehicles sold in 2014, up just a hair from 2013.

Specifically, CNW Research said in its latest analysis that there were 42.05 million used-car sales in 2014, a figure that includes sales by franchised and independent dealers as well as .

This compares to 42.00 million sales a year earlier.

The year closed with 3.32 million used sales in December, compared to 3.28 million used sales in December 2013.

For full-year 2014, franchised dealers had 15.63 million used sales, down from 15.69 million a year earlier. Independents sold 13.93 million pre-owned vehicles, versus 14.29 million in 2013.

There were 12.49 million private-party sales last year, up from 12.02 million sales the prior year.

 

Used Vehicles With Lowest Days-to-Turn

SANTA MONICA, Calif.  - 

Transaction prices were up in 14 of the 15 used-vehicle age groups in the latest quarterly data set from Edmunds.com. But that comes with one big Catch-22.

In its Q3 2014 Used Vehicle Market Report, Edmunds said the “one downside to selling more expensive vehicles is longer lot times.”

Analysts added, “This is especially true once used value approach new-car prices.”

Overall, the average days-to-turn for used cars was 38.

Below is a breakdown of days-to-turn based on used-vehicle selling price:

$5,000 or Less: 26 days
$5,000 to $10,000: 29 days
$10,000 to $15,000: 37 days
$15,000 to $20,000: 44 days
$20,000 to $25,000: 45 days
$25,000 to $30,000: 44 days
$30,000 to $35,000: 47 days
$35,000 to $40,000: 48 days
$40,000 to $45,000: 48 days
$45,000 to $50,000: 48 days
Over $50,000: 52 days

In the report, Edmunds also shared the fastest-turning vehicles in different price ranges.

For used cars between $5,000 and $10,000, the 1999 Jeep Wrangler was the fastest-moving (17 days on lot). It was followed by the 2007 Honda Fit (18).

Among used cars in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, the 2006 Honda Ridgeline and the 2006 Honda Pilot were tied for the lead at 21 days.

The group of $15,000 to $20,000 used vehicles also had two leaders tied at the top: the 2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD and the 2008 Nissan Titan, both of which were at 26 days-to-turn.

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AutoNation Posts Nov. New-Car Increases

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - 

AutoNation reported year-over-year increases in several new-vehicle metrics for the month of November.

The group posted 27,055 new-vehicle sales for November, marking a 6-percent increase compared to November 2013, despite having one fewer sale day in 2014.

The sales in each segment each rendered a year-over-year increase, with the biggest jump being in domestic sales, up 8 percent. Not far behind, import sales increased by 6 percent followed by premium luxury with a 4 percent increase. The specific sales numbers, provided by AutoNation, are as follows:

  • 7,997 Domestic Sales, Up 8 percent versus Nov. 2013
  • 12,918 Import Sales, Up 6 percent versus Nov. 2013
  • 6,140 Premium Luxury Sales, Up 4 percent versus Nov. 2013

AutoNation’s same-store sales saw a 4-percent increase year-over-year compared to a year ago. The company expects to release December figures on Jan. 6.

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