Amerco (NASDAQ:UHAL) reported its fiscal first-quarter 2018 earnings after the market closed on Wednesday. The parent company of the do-it-yourself moving leader and growing self-storage player U-Haul, which also has two insurance company subsidiaries, posted a 3.8% year-over-year increase in revenue, while earnings per share declined 14.2%. 

Shares of Amerco closed down 7.9% on Thursday.

Amerco earnings: The raw numbers

Metric

Fiscal Q1 2018

Fiscal Q1 2017

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$957.9 million

$923.2 million

3.8%

Operating income

$229.0 million

$259.6 million

 (11.8%)

Net income

$126.2 million

$147.2 million

 (14.3%)

GAAP earnings per share (EPS)

$6.44

$7.51

 (14.2%)

Data source: Amerco. GAAP = generally accepted accounting principles.

While year-over-year revenue grew, a rise in operating expenses resulted in operating income declining, which flowed through to the bottom line. Depreciation expense, net of gains and losses on equipment disposals, increased $31.3 million due to increased costs of acquisitions and lower relative vehicle sales values compared to the same period last year.

The company has been dealing with a lower resale market for vehicles for some time. 

Young male-female couple taking boxes out of a moving truck.

Image source: Getty Images.

What happened with Amerco in the quarter?

  • Revenue in the U-Haul segment, which accounted for 92.1% of total revenue, increased 4.3% from the year-ago period to $882.5 million.
  • Revenue in the insurance segment (comprised of one property-casualty and one life-insurance company) declined 2.4% to $76.8 million. (Revenue from the two segments adds up to slightly more than the company's total revenue because there's a small revenue elimination, which eliminates the sale of goods and services between the two business units.)
  • Within the U-Haul segment, DIY-moving equipment rental revenue grew 3.6% from the year-ago period to $669.9 million. Growth was driven by increases in both one-way and in-town transactions. Relative to the year-ago quarter, the company's rental fleet size is larger, as is the number of rental locations, which include independent dealers and company-owned locations. 
  • Within the U-Haul segment, self-storage revenue increased 13.3% to $76.7 million. Revenue growth was driven by a combination of improved occupancy at existing locations plus the addition of new facilities. 
  • Room count grew to 328,000 at the end of the quarter compared to 287,000 at the end of the year-ago period.
  • Average occupancy rate based on room count was 73%, down from 77.4% in the year-ago period. This marks the seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines in the occupancy rate. However, it's up sequentially, as last quarter's rate was 72.1%.
  • DIY-moving and self-storage product and service sales revenue increased 2.1% to $78.9 million, while property management fees grew 2.4% to $6.8 million. These are fees the company collects from managing self-storage units owned by others.
  • Operating income in the U-Haul segment declined 11.3% to $220.5 million.
  • Operating income in the insurance segment dropped 22.3% to $11.4 million.

What management had to say

Here's what CEO Joe Shoen had to say in the press release:

Our opportunity is to continue to better utilize the investments we've made in our rental fleet and self-storage locations to serve more customers. Our base businesses are solid. We need to continue to focus on management.

Looking ahead

Overall, it was a challenging quarter, with operating income declining about 12% and net income and EPS decreasing about 14%. However, there were some relatively brighter spots: The core U-Haul segment's revenue grew 4.3%, and the average occupancy rate based on room count in the self-storage business ticked up from last quarter.

Amerco doesn't provide guidance. And there's just a single Wall Street analyst who provides estimates, making them of little value.

Beth McKenna has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amerco. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.