This article is part of our Rising Star Portfolios series.
I purchased shares of Asbury Automotive
Better yet, Asbury enjoys stable and recurring cash flow from parts and services. It recently renegotiated credit agreements. It has the potential to wring costs from its bloated cost structure. And, at 11 times trailing cash flow (at the time I bought in), its valuation didn't seem to reflect any of those prospects. All those factors made Asbury shares a compelling buy.
Gas for your portfolio?
The quarterly numbers seem to back up that thesis. Total revenue jumped 22%, new vehicle same-store units increased 23%, used vehicle same-store units grew 22%, and operating profits increased 34%. Finance and insurance revenue, which is tremendously profitable -- Asbury collects a commission, but retains no liability -- grew 34%. That's pure profit.
Thank two key factors for that quarterly performance. First, sales have improved for most automotive retailers, as AutoNation
All in, it was a great quarter, and the shares moved 6% on the news.
Regular or supreme?
Here's the kicker: Shares still look cheap to me. Consider a few things in context:
- The number of dealerships has dramatically declined from pre-credit crisis days, since the GM/Chrysler bankruptcies forced a rash of dealer closures. That leads to more sales for existing dealerships.
- Asbury's implementing a common dealer management system and a CRM platform. If its peers' results are any guide, these efforts could yield a 10%-20% increase in cash flow.
- Unbelievably, by my math, the market still isn't pricing a the long-term recovery to car sales.
These shares trade at roughly 11 times my measure of normalized free cash flow. In my book, that makes them a compelling investment.
Agree? Disagree? Join me on my discussion board, where we're still discussing all things Pontiac (and maybe a little bit about stocks besides).