In this segment of the Motley Fool Money radio show, host Chris Hill, Supernova and Rule Breakers' David Kretzmann, and Motley Fool Pro and Options' Jeff Fischer talk about the reasons auto parts weren't selling last quarter -- the reasons the specialty retailers blame -- like the tax refund delay and the vagaries of the weather. But do they have a longer-term problem?
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on May 26, 2017.
Chris Hill: Tough week if you are in the auto parts business. Third-quarter same-store sales were down for AutoZone (NYSE:AZO), same story for Advance Auto Parts' (NYSE:AAP) first-quarter report, and both stocks down, Jeff, more than 10% this week. This is kind of a rough patch for two businesses that have really rewarded shareholders over the long term.
Jeff Fischer: For a long time. And add O'Reilly Automotive (NASDAQ:ORLY) to that, and you have three, a trifecta, a disappointing quarter for these three companies. A few things have happened, Chris. One, as we talked about in the earlier segment, that tax refund was delayed. It's funny how these companies all really rely on consumers to get that refund.
Hill: I was going to say, AutoZone called that out, whereas Best Buy went out of their way to give credit to the delayed tax return, like, "Hey, people took their tax refund and spent it here!" AutoZone went the other way and said, "Yeah, tax returns were delayed, and they weren't spending money with us."
Fischer: Exactly, Chris. And they went further and said this last week that it never materialized. Once people got that refund, they didn't come in and spend it at AutoZone the way they expected. So, it was a one-two punch where it was delayed and then it didn't show up. Meanwhile, Best Buy is like, "Hey, everybody just came in and spent their refund on tech!"
Hill: Clearly AutoZone needs to start selling video games.
David Kretzmann: That's where the money is.
Fischer: People care about their cars less, maybe, in today's world. But what also happened is, the spring weather didn't materialize and stay the way they always depend on spring. April is usually a really strong month because it gets warmer, everyone thinks, "Time to clean my car, do some maintenance." That didn't really happen this year. And that's on top of a mild winter, which decreased their sales as well. So, all these things. Weather is a very real thing here. The talk on Wall Street is, Amazon is going to challenge these auto parts retailers. So far, that isn't happening at all, according to O'Reilly and AutoZone. It's just not really on the radar yet.
Hill: You mentioned the mild winter. You have to figure, on some level, David, if you're one of these companies, you're rooting for potholes.
Kretzmann: They won't say that exactly, but you know in the back of their head, their fingers are crossed.
Hill: When you look at the stock, it's down. And in the case of AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, year to date, these stocks are down about 25%. Are they cheap? Is this an opportunity to get in at a lower price? Or is it still something that you want to see, put this on hold for three months and see how they do next quarter?
Fischer: They've done so well for so long that they had inflated multiples, you could say. And AutoZone now trades at 13 times price to earnings. Advance Auto Parts is 17 times forward estimates. So, they're not cheap yet, as far as retail goes. When I see valuations contracting on most retailers, it makes me leery of any that are high teens now still.