Twenty-two years. That's how long I went without ever having an accident, and then I had two in the space of one month. All I could think as my car slid along the slippery street toward the SUV was: "Please, please, don't let my Camry end up a piece of Copart's (Nasdaq: CPRT ) gross revenue." It didn't, and thankfully, nobody got hurt. I then wished that my insurance company were public, like American International Group (NYSE: AIG ) , Safeco (Nasdaq: SAFC ) , Chubb (NYSE: CB ) , or Progressive (NYSE: PGR ) , so I could have profited from the stock to make up for my increased premiums.
Copart wouldn't have needed my hunk of steel. The company, which auctions off wrecked and salvaged autos, seems to be doing just fine with the multitude of drivers who wreck their vehicles. I mean, just what does it say about driver safety when Copart's same-store sales grow by 18%?
Copart's sales are spread across the map, and that should give comfort to investors who might be concerned about regional growth limitations. For the quarter ended Jan. 31, sales of vehicles to buyers outside the state from where the wrecked vehicle is located account for 47% of sales. Buyers inside the state made up 25%, and a full 22% came from outside the country. You have to wonder who in the world would want to buy a smashed-up car and take the trouble to ship it overseas. Copart must know, because it's using the Internet to auction off the wrecks.
The business model seems to be working. For the most recent quarter, net earnings per share were $0.25, beating analyst estimates by 3 cents, while overall net income rose 36% to $23.6 million and revenue climbed 19% to $110 million. This is just another in a long string of solid quarters.
Although I find Copart a bit expensive at 24 times earnings and with a market cap-to-free cash flow ratio for the trailing 12 months of almost 40, the company's profit margins are 21%, and it has $200 million in cash and no debt. The business is solid. It's worth watching the stock to find an attractive entry point.
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Fool contributor Lawrence Meyers does not own any stocks mentioned in this article and reminds you to not to do stock research while driving.