CarMax: Random thoughts... Running thread

Manheim publishes the sales trends and maintains an index. Below is the latest quarter presentation.

here is the used vehicle Index

So you are looking for another one to two quarters of falling prices. As the falling prices flows through the inventory, sales, in another 2 to 3 quarter things will normalize from the inventory and sales point of view. I don’t know what is the lag for the default rates to show up from sales, I would like to see the default rates of cohorts from Jun 2021 with 2018, 2018 or prior period to see how the price impacts default rates and if we can overlay economic condition on top of that, would be awesome.

Ignoring the default rates, KMX stock should be forming bottom soon.

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I didn’t get to look into the earnings, from headline the EPS miss is pretty bad. I guess this was expected in the last week or so, because suddenly option premium were raising, showing a bigger move is expected out of earnings. I have sold some Jan 23 $40 Puts, and I will be closing them today, take the profit move to sidelines and wait. The used car prices started to fall, but we still have some ways to go to get back to normal levels. I think the bottom for KMX should be very close, may be another 1 or 2 quarters.

This is bit old news, but gives you an idea of where the used car prices are. An average used car price of over $30K??? What are those folks thinking? You can buy a good new car for that price.

Used car prices at last saw first decline of this year. It has long way to come down to get back (to mean revert). Let us assume the price declines gently over 18 to 24 months, what this will do auto-loans and same store volume? I guess the current price is rich, in any case, my deep in the money covered call is safe.

The price drop is every so slow. Whenever I see this, how much COVID has changed/ impacted economy and our lives. Will we ever go back to pre-covid levels? If so, what kind of hardship it will unleash on middle-class, and poor people? You are not going to go back to pre-covid levels without draining all that money poured in to the system and it is going to create havoc.

Ticked a bit low… The pleasure of watching paint dry :joy: :joy: Other than pickup all other segments price are down Y-o-Y. This prices has to go down a lot to mean revert. I expect another year of declining price.

The used car prices dropped by 2.2% in October. Also, the interest rates have gone up for financing. The price drop could be seasonal, if the price drop continues, along with interest rates, dealers end up carrying inventory that is losing its value and paying double digit interest to finance it. Already a mini fire sale on used car and even new car sales is underway. Of course carmax has a very enviable unit economics. If there is a carnage, KMX may be the last man standing and they can get back to $2000+ gross margin per car.

A good entry price is needed for some stocks to be a great investment.

Wedbush analyst Seth Basham in a research noted…

A phase of higher defaults on auto loans may be starting, which would be bad news for CarMax.

CarMax Auto Finance reported “securitization trust data for the month of October. Based on our calculations, the portfolio-level delinquency rate spiked,” he wrote. “With 2022-1 through 2023-2 vintage securitization delinquency and loss curves breaking out, and macro loan performance drivers such as the job market slowing, we see potential for higher loan loss provisions in F3Q.”

Affordability may be an issue. According to Edmunds, 17.5% of buyers who financed a car in the third quarter had a monthly loan payment of $1,000 or more. The average payment was $736, a record high.

The Nov mid-month Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index declined to 206.1, … The seasonal adjustment reduced the decrease. The non-adjusted price change in the first half of November dropped 2.3% compared to October, while the unadjusted price was down 6.9% year over year.

While the price is declining we are still long way from getting back to the trend-line.

I was shocked to find CVNA unit gross profit… Compare this to KMX, I think I should have picked up CVNA as a lottery ticket when it was below $10

Still a long way to go mean-revert. I am not seeing it is going to get there in a hurry, meaning KMX will move sideways until the decline stabilizes, at least that is my theory. Separately used car prices have to decline to arrest the soaring auto insurance costs. In states like CA, it is very difficult to find anyone writing auto insurance. I should have bought the Insurance companies specifically Progressive. I looked at them at one point, but failed to pull the trigger. :frowning:

below is the 5 quarters and 5 year selected lines from the income statement. Still the COGS is much higher compared to historical trend. I assume, as the COGS comes down, it directly falls to the bottom line.

Column 1 CVNA KMX Column 4
Market Cap 16.7 12.5
Debt 6.3 19.2
Total Enterprise Value 23 31.7
Long-term Notes Receivable 17

CVNA’s market cap is far higher than KMX, while one can argue the valuation is wrong etc, setting aside, the way I see is market is expecting CVNA to grow much faster than KMX and will generate more profits.

Separately KMX has a huge financing company inside it.

The price is declining ever so slowly, probably it is going to take end of 2025 to get back to the old trend line. However, if the price is going to glide down gently, I think KMX can handle that. In the meantime the stock is moving in a range and seems to have a support around $60. The next time it visits $60, I will be adding.

Longer, is my guess. Used car prices are now being propped up by high interest rates on new car prices; even with three (unlikely!) rate decreases in 2024, the rates won’t begin to approach those of the past 20 years for several years, maybe ever. (Those rates are a generational exception, I think).

Even after the rates come down it will take another year for prices to flatten entirely. I think it’s looking like 2026, maybe 2027, best. (Absent recession, collapse, etc. in which case all bets are off.)

Actually it is other way around. The used car loans have higher interest rates than new cars.

Separately, used car prices impact the CPI/ inflation calculation, which in tern impacts the interest rates.

Coming back to KMX, if the price drop is gentle they can handle it, if the price drops like rock, then the inventory is depreciating faster, which wipes out any profit they make. As such KMX makes most of its money on financing not on car selling operations.

Yes. What I meant is that new car prices + interest rates are forcing many car buyers to go “used” instead of “new”. That is an artificial goose to used car prices, which also keeps people from trading up or potentially trading at all, putting off the change for another year or two. This is not good for CarMax or others in that sector.

How? When used car interest rate is high and used car prices are relatively high, ideally one should choose new car. So I don’t follow you.

But new car financing is likewise more expensive, so the entire cost curve is pushed upwards. And in fact, we see that new car sales peaked in 2017, and is a good 10-15% lower today, while used car sales are at their highest point in history.

One might think this would benefit CarMax & similar, (and I would have been fooled) but it seems not to be the case. Perhaps that’s because the used car business is one with virtually no barrier to entry, so competition abounds anytime the market is good. New car sales has a high barrier to entry, since you have to acquire and maintain a factory approved dealership to be in the game at all.

With CarMax running on a $2000 markup (generally speaking) they are now doing so on a more expensive unit (acquisition cost) without being able to increase the margin on it commensurately. That might mean more capital deployed for inventory, which hurts overall margins. I don’t really know, I haven’t followed the sector, I’m just spitballing here.

Anyway, new car sales: Excluding the 2008 debacle, back where they were around 1995:

And used car sales:

A used car, at 10% interest rates, is probably somewhere close to what a new car at 3% interest rates was a year or two ago. Those who are economically driven to buy a car with limited funds may have to choose used over new, and may opt for a curbstoner rather than an established “used” dealer like CarMax, at least that’s my thesis.

There is a lot to process :slight_smile:

Ideally, consumers get better financing (rates) and deals with new car than used car. But clearly, there is a huge market for used cars and there are many folks who buy them for variety of reasons, primarily affordability. If you wonder how come someone buying a used car for $30 K having an affordability issue, they cannot afford the same make and model new car.

I firmly believe people are spending beyond their means in cars, but that’s me. :frowning:

There are many cross currents like folks didn’t drive for almost a year, working from home, manufacturer strikes have resulted in new car sales being low. This will normalize but it may not go back to pre-pandemic.

Now let us switch to focus only on KMX.

Earlier in this thread I posted on the KMX margin, the real culprit is falling car prices means, the cars in KMX inventory are depreciating, which is reflected in the COGS.
Secondly, there is a default wave that is hitting and going to hit KMX in a bigger way, which means their financing arm is going to take a bigger hit. There are folks (who no longer posts in TMF) argued the financing is completely ring-fenced, sadly, they have never read the 10-Q, or 10-K. KMX takes initial hit on those ABS loans. So the bond holder is protected because KMX will re-posses the car on the default loan, sell and deposit the money to the securitization, but there are incidental costs and losses, bulk of which KMX absorbs. So when there is a higher default than the model, KMX makes less profit in their finance arm. Remember this is their biggest profit engine.
Like I mentioned there is going to be higher default because the post-pandemic cohorts are experiencing higher defaults than the trend. So this will play out in the next few quarters.
Separately, post-pandemic new car sales were weak, meaning it reduces the supply for the used car market, which is keeping the used car prices higher and getting back to trend line.

Lot of these things tie to the used car prices. If it glides gently, the stock is range-bound, if it falls sharply back to the pre-pandemic trend line, KMX can have kitchen sink quarter and the stock can rebound. Why KMX will have kitchen sink quarter, remember, I talked about the incidental costs associated with higher defaults, KMX will update the model and take a charge (this is my expectation), so that they can move on and tell a growth story, growing online sales and how they are using AI, etc.

We don’t have a recession and the used car prices are not falling back sharply. So the story plays out.

Separately, the stock price is rather resilient or high given all the headwinds for the next several quarters.