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AutoNation Reports Higher-Than-Expected Earnings, But Stock Price Drops

AutoNation NYSE: AN has reported its second quarter 2023 earnings results to end a tumultuous week in the stock market, sending the stock plummeting upon the release. Investors may be scratching their heads when seeing that all the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in the business came out all right, blowing past analyst expectations. 

Key Points

  • AutoNation stock suffers from a sharp decline during Friday’s trading session. This reaction follows the company’s release of quarterly earnings. 
  • Investors who need help figuring out how to react can follow this simple guideline for best practices—reassured by the fact that the price action is not an accurate reflection of what happened during the quarter.
  • These fundamental metrics can close the loop as to why AutoNation is a value play in the making. Short-term pain? Long-term capital gains could be made. You bet.
  • 5 stocks we like better than AutoNation

The stock is down by as much as 7.8% during Friday’s trading session, which is not a good look for a stock with a lot of downside, considering it is still next to its all-time high price. Nonetheless, investors can remain calm and do the best thing that a long-term shareholder can sometimes do: nothing. 

Selling upon mere adverse price action would be foolish; looking to buy immediately after the decline can also be risky, calling for a typical Wall Street critique of ‘Trying to catch a falling knife.’ Understanding where a potential bottom may be and why today’s earnings results directly contrast the way the stock is reacting can act as another pillar of confidence for scared participants.

When to Pull the Checkbooks 

Considering that the stock reached a recent all-time high price of $182.08, investors can begin to point toward the ‘Bear Market’ definition of a 20% retracement from this price. This simple calculation would suggest that the next support level, where markets may be looking to accumulate or consolidate before finding direction, is $145.66. 

Remembering that stocks tend to go down out the window and then recover by climbing steep staircases, what seems to be a remote price level could become a reality sooner than later. Current – and potential – investors should consider sitting on the sidelines until these support ranges are reached and then see what the market is thinking regarding the stock.

Now, a theoretical purchase solely based on this support price level would be a foolish investment unless the strategy is to gamble money away, in which case AutoNation stock would be ill-suited. Understanding what happened in today’s earnings results that made the stock drop and why the future is still bright for the company is critical to moving forward.

Revenues increased by a negligible 0.3% during the past twelve months. However, other drivers in the business have taken the spotlight. Gross margins expanded by 13% during the period, supported by inside and outside factors pertaining to management.

The easing of the vehicle market’s supply chain, which had suffered dislocations during COVID-19, and management initiatives to cut unnecessary expenses have brought on a new wave of profitability for the company. A gross profit of $543 million will mark a record quarter for the firm, leading directly to management’s reward to shareholders.

Value Awaits

Management has repurchased up to 1.6 million shares from the open market during the quarter, at an estimated value of $207 million. Now, why else would insiders be buying back their stock? Surely they must think it is undervalued today or that the future prospects are as bright as ever.

Not only is the stock a gauge of the future, but other management decisions are also a sounding board of a resilient recovery in the underlying sector demand. AutoNation acquired five dealerships and opened a new AutoNation USA store; this can be another subtle hint of a new demand wave coming soon.

AutoNation stock is confirming these signs of undervaluation in other ways when placed next to other competing names in the space. CarGurus NASDAQ: CARG is seemingly overextended from a valuation standpoint, offering investors a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 22.2x.

Perhaps CarGurus is being valued above AutoNation due to today’s decline in stock. Markets are typically forward-looking, so they were expecting a bearish reaction to earnings today, undervaluing the perceived future earnings for the company. However, as investors will see, this is good for those willing to wait.

Before you consider AutoNation, you’ll want to hear this.

financehubusa keeps track of Wall Street’s top-rated and best performing research analysts and the stocks they recommend to their clients on a daily basis. financehubusa has identified the five stocks that top analysts are quietly whispering to their clients to buy now before the broader market catches on… and AutoNation wasn’t on the list.

While AutoNation currently has a “Hold” rating among analysts, top-rated analysts believe these five stocks are better buys.

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