The automotive aftermarket parts sector has been on fire over the past several months because of favorable trends that have been displayed in recent earnings blowouts from O'Reilly Auto Parts
While Advance's earnings release and conference call were similar to its peers in noting the favorable industry and weather trends that helped boost earnings, the company also made a point to discuss the impressive growth in its commercial business. Advance Auto Parts CEO Darren Jackson delved into the company's quarter at the beginning of the call, saying, "The past 11 quarters we've been squarely focused on becoming more competitive. We have embarked upon a journey to accelerate our commercial business, which has realized 11 consecutive quarters of double-digit gains in comparable store sales."
Advance now generates 34% of its revenue from the commercial, do-it-for-me (DIFM) business. Advance built its brand in the do-it yourself retail business, but today's opportunities for growth are shifting to the DIFM space. Vehicles are much more complex, and fixing up the family car isn't the American hobby that it used to be. This means that more work is done in independent repair shops, instead of driveways. Over the past few years, the closing of several thousands of dealerships has also shifted a tremendous amount of vehicle service to the independent shops that Advance serves.
As a result, Advance began to roll out a program to focus on a commercial sales program for many of its stores about three years ago. At the time, Advance only had a 3% share of the market. Today, that number is 4.5%, which is still small, and shows the tremendous opportunity for growth in this market.
Advance has traditionally sat between its largest competitors O'Reilly Auto Parts, which gets about 50% of its revenue from DIFM, and AutoZone
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