Categories Consumer, Earnings Call Transcripts

AutoNation, Inc. (AN) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

AN Earnings Call - Final Transcript

AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE: AN) Q3 2021 earnings call Oct. 21, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Robert Quartaro — Vice President Investor Relations

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

John Murphy — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Rajat Gupta — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Rick Nelson — Stephens — Analyst

Bret Jordan — Jefferies — Analyst

Stephanie Moore — Truist Securities — Analyst

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Good morning. My name is Katie, and I’ll be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the AutoNation’s Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

I’d now like to turn the call over to Rob Quartaro, Vice President of Investor Relations. You may now begin your conference.

Robert Quartaro — Vice President Investor Relations

[Technical Issue] 2021 conference call and webcast. Please ensure that your [Technical Issue] Leading our call today will be Mike Jackson, our Chief Executive Officer; and Joe Lower, our Chief Financial Officer. Following their remarks, we will open up the call for questions. I will be available by phone following the call to address any additional questions that you may have.

Before we begin, let me read our brief statement regarding forward-looking comments. Certain statements and information on this call, including any statements regarding our anticipated financial results and objectives constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Federal Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks that may cause our actual results or performance to differ materially from such forward-looking statements. Additional discussions of factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially are contained in our press release issued earlier today and in our SEC filings, including our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K.

And now, I’ll turn the call over to AutoNation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Jackson.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. Today, we reported all-time record quarterly results with earnings per share of $5.12, an increase of 115% compared to adjusted EPS of $2.38 last year. This marks AutoNation’s sixth consecutive all-time record quarter, driven by strong performance across both variable and fixed operations.

Our third quarter same-store revenue of $6.4 billion was up 18% compared to the prior year as well as the third quarter of 2019. Consumer demand continues to outpace supply, driven by consumer desire for personal transportation and ongoing manufacturer supply chain disruption. We expect this to continue well into 2022. New vehicle sales are currently constrained by reduced production volume, low inventory levels leading to even more pent-up demand and should support sales for the foreseeable future.

In our used vehicle business, our strong self-sourcing capability, digital tools and customer-focused sales processes are competitive advantage that has allowed us to outperform our peers and the broader used vehicle market. In the third quarter, we self-sourced 90% of our pre-owned vehicle retail sales and our same-store used vehicle revenue increased 63% year-over-year. We see additional opportunity to capture used vehicle market share to our AutoNation USA expansion. This week, we opened our eighth AutoNation USA store and our second store in the Denver market and we expect to open two additional stores in Phoenix and Charlotte before year end. Our rollout schedule remains on track with 12 additional stores planned for 2022 and over 130 stores by the end of 2026.

Today, we announced that we signed an agreement to acquire Priority 1 Automotive Group, adding $420 million in annual revenue. Together with our previously announced acquisition from Peacock Automotive Group, AutoNation has announced $800 million in annual revenue from acquisitions this year. We also continue to buy back our shares during the third quarter. Over the last 12 months, through the end of the third quarter, we repurchased 27% of our shares outstanding from September 30 last year. Our strong execution and cash flows have positioned us well to continue our disciplined, opportunistic capital allocation strategy.

I now turn the call over to Joe Lower, our Chief Financial Officer.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Mike, and good morning, everyone. I’m going to start the same place as Mike opened. Today, we reported net income of $362 million or $5.12 per share versus adjusted net income of $212 million or $2.38 per share during the third quarter of 2020. This represents our sixth consecutive all-time high quarterly EPS and 115% increase year-over-year.

As Mike mentioned, consumer demand for personal transportation remained strong, while new vehicle inventory is at historically low levels. In this environment, we continue to focus on optimizing new vehicle margins and procuring used vehicle inventory to support sales. We expect these trends with demand exceeding supply to continue well into 2022.

For the quarter, same-store variable gross profit increased 42% year-over-year, driven by an increase in total combined units of 4% and an increase in total variable PVR of $1,709 or 39%. A decline in new units of 11% was more than offset by growth in used units of 20%. Our customer care business has recovered with same-store customer care gross profit increasing 8% on a year-over-year basis and 6% compared to the third quarter of 2019. Taken together, our same-store total gross profit increased 29% compared to the prior year and 45% compared to the third quarter of 2019.

We also continued to deliver significant SG&A leverage due to strong cost discipline and robust vehicle margins. Third quarter SG&A as a percentage of gross profit was 56.9%, a 750 basis point improvement compared to the year ago period on an adjusted basis. As measured against gross profit on an adjusted basis, our metrics improved across all key categories, with overhead decreasing 390 basis points, compensation decreasing 290 basis points and advertising decreasing 70 basis points. We expect SG&A as a percentage of gross profit to remain below 60% for the fourth quarter and the full year 2021. Floorplan interest expense decreased to $5 million in the third quarter of 2021, due primarily to lower average floorplan balances. This, combined with a lower effective tax rate and fewer shares outstanding generated a record EPS.

Turning to the balance sheet and liquidity. Our cash balance at quarter end was $72 million, which combined with our additional borrowing capacity resulted in total liquidity of approximately $1.8 billion. We continue to leverage our strong balance sheet and robust cash flows to invest in our business. As Mike mentioned, this week we opened our eighth AutoNation USA store in Denver, Colorado. We remain on track to open two additional stores in the fourth quarter and 12 more in 2022. Again, as Mike mentioned, longer term we continue to target over 130 stores by the end of 2026.

In addition to organic growth initiatives, today we announced the acquisition of Priority 1 Automotive Group. We will continue to look for additional acquisitions that complement our portfolio and meet our return thresholds. We have also continue to repurchase our own shares. During the third quarter, we purchased 7.9 million shares for an aggregate purchase price of $879 million. This represents an 11% reduction in shares outstanding for the fourth quarter alone. Today, we announced that our board has authorized an additional $1 million for share repurchase. With this increased authorization, the company has approximately $1.3 billion available for additional share repurchase. As of October 19, there were approximately 66 million shares outstanding.

Despite our significant capital deployment, we maintained ample capacity on our balance sheet. At the end of the third quarter, our covenant leverage ratio of debt to EBITDA was 1.4 times, up slightly from 1.2 at the end of the second quarter, but still well below our historical range of 2.0 to 3.0 debt to EBITDA. We continue to demonstrate strong operational execution and disciplined capital allocation. Going forward, we will remain focused on leveraging our balance sheet and strong cash flows to drive long-term shareholder value.

With that, I will turn the call back over to Mike.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Joe. It’s been my honor to serve in a leadership position of AutoNation for the past 22 years. We’ve built an exceptional brand. We are America’s most admired and respected automotive retailer. We provide a peerless customer experience from coast to coast. And we have made a difference in people’s lives with DRIVE PINK and our efforts to beat cancer. I am forever grateful to all the associates of AutoNation for these achievements and thank them for all their efforts, especially through this pandemic. And I’m thrilled to welcome Mike Manley as the next CEO of AutoNation. He is one of the world’s most respected, admired automotive executives, and we are thrilled to have him as our new CEO. And AutoNation has an even brighter future.

With this, I’m happy to take your questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of John Murphy from Bank of America. John, please go ahead.

John Murphy — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Good morning, guys. And Mike, congratulations again on a fantastic long run. It’s good to go out on top, although I think the top is going to keep going up. So I think your legacy will be well heeled here. And I’d say goodbye, but I’m sure we’ll stay in touch and you never know when you’re going to pop back up again, Mike. So, thanks. Thanks for everything.

First question here, you alluded to the supply-demand imbalance lasting well into 2022. I mean, from what we’re hearing in modeling, that’s going to last, at least through the first half of next year and probably well into the second half and maybe even 2023. So you’re going to have this high-class issue of high GPUs, presumably continued good performance here and you’re going to generate a boat load of cash. How do you think about cap allocation? I mean, you’re turning to tap back on a little bit here more on acquisitions, you’re buying back shares, you’re opening AutoNation USA stores. I mean, you’re structurally growing the footprint of this company and it’s still being underappreciated by the market. I mean, how do you think about this? And has anything changed?

And as we fast forward the clock, I mean, simple dumb guys stuff like say you bought back 11% of the shares and you acquired revenue of 4% of the company, so 15% higher EPS go forward just on those cap allocation, very simple thought process there, but you’re going to do a whole lot more of this, at least over the next year or so. I mean, is anything changing? And how should we think about that capital being deployed, because it’s pretty aggressive, but not wild at the moment?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

John, a few things. So look, I expect more demand than supply well into next year, and as you said, maybe even 2023, but why talk about that today. And we have a tremendous percentage of income pipeline pre-sold. And I expect as the production distortion and disruption settle down, they will continue to go out, they’re not going to go to inventory. So it’s a long journey to more inventory, but I’m in your camp, John. So what, as long as they’re coming in and going out. And our strategy of growing revenue by giving customers a choice with pre-owned has obviously been very successful, very compelling. Same time, we’ve been disciplined on the cost side. And yes, we viewed, since we’re bullish about AutoNation and the outlook, we’ve viewed share repurchase as an opportunity, which we have seen.

And if I go back over the past 12 months, it’s 27% of the shares outstanding have been repurchased. And while we announced $1 million of board authorization of share repurchase, of course, that’s a step by step opportunistic decision. And on that forward issue and what it means, what we’ve done in the past, what it means, Joe, just as a mathematical calculation and how we think about capital going forward.

John Murphy — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Thanks, Mike, and thanks [Technical Issue]

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Investment prioritization and really looking at after-tax returns. As we’ve indicated before, for us the highest return has been our organic investments into AN USA. We’ve laid out a plan, I think we’ve also been pretty candid in saying, so far, we’ve actually exceeded our own plans and very pleased with that progress. Anticipate we’ll continue to deploy capital along those lines.

We’ve said throughout that where there are attractive opportunities for M&A, we will pursue them. Year-to-date, we’ve announced two acquisitions of size, $800 million of revenue acquired and we’ll continue to search and assess and try to identify those that both fit a strategic and financial returns and then there is share repurchase. And particularly with our outlook combined with relatively attractive valuation given any historical perspective on multiples, we’ve been extremely opportunistic. And as we’ve done all that and look forward, we realized we have significant capital to deploy. And we’ll use the same disciplined and a balanced approach going forward.

John Murphy — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Okay. Just a quick follow-up. I mean, if it gets pretty, you’d understand buybacks have an immediate return, acquisitions relatively quick return. We think about the AutoNation USA store investment. How fast do you think that return on investment turns positive? Meaning, do you know how fast are these stores now that you’re kind of running — you’re not hot yet, but you’re running more normally on store openings. How faster they become profitable and accretive due to the equation? Because I think that’s the only part of the equation where there is a lag time on the return of the capital as mass capital you’re generating and redeploying coming in sort of at later date. I mean, how fast is that return?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

John, what we want to do is grow the business with the highest returns and be in control of our own destiny. So in many ways, the hard part is done. We’ve built the brand. We have the digital platform. We have the stores, how they operate as delivery centers, speed-to-market reconditioning centers, acquisition centers. Those are the three principle activities that take place within the USA store. We’ve defined the footprint that is highly efficient and effective, exactly what it needs to be. And our speed to profitability has been even better than our plan. And really the critical path is how quickly we can develop the right sites and build the stores.

So every year, we expect that to be more than the number that we can build, the number that we were than the year before. And as of today, we’re declaring 12 for next year. But Joe, why don’t you tell something about the returns?

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So you recall when we rolled out the expansion of AN USA, we gave a sample model. At that time, we thought breakeven would occur within the first 12 months. We’re actually realizing that in the first, if not the second month. So the success of the model has proven to be very robust. We mentioned that the monthly pre-tax on a whole run rate would be up to $200,000 a store per month. We’re seeing that being realized much more quickly than originally anticipated. And the investments that we articulated originally in a $10 million to $11 million range, even in this environment, we’re able to achieve that. So we remain very optimistic. The AN USA stores in total contributed almost $5 million in pre-tax in the quarter. So again, as Mike mentioned, we’re very pleased with the progress. We’re exceeding our own plans and we’ll continue to evaluate how to appropriately accelerate that going forward.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

And what’s important within that, John, is we are now opening USA stores in outside the traditional footprint of AutoNation, and that’s going extremely well, launching the brand in new market. So we’re very optimistic and confident about the future of AutoNation USA and the returns it will produce and the fact that we can grow this company in effect organically with a brand without paying goodwill, and we control the pace of the growth.

John Murphy — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Yeah, it’s very exciting. Last question for me on Customer Care. Momentum seems to be building obviously because of the shortage of inventory, people are holding on to their cars longer and driving more. So I mean, it has been an expectation that as the economy reopens, people will drive more, you’ll get a bump, but there hasn’t been sort of that second thought process of people are holding their cars longer, so they’re willing to do more maintenance or need to do more maintenance, not even willing, but need to do more maintenance. And how do we think about those two factors benefiting same-store sales on Customer Care? And are we still at the early edge of the re-acceleration there?

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, we clearly have seen re-acceleration with us now exceeding 2019. The strong areas obviously being areas of customer pay have continued to perform well versus both 2020 and 2019. The one area that continues to be just a little bit of a laggard is collision. We do anticipate as miles continued to improve that that will fully recover. But overall, we’re very pleased with the progress we’re seeing in the business and despite concerns about parts shortages continuing to demonstrate growth over both ’19 and 2020. So we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll continue to see those trends improve as we kind of proceed through this year and continue to kind of see people increasingly return to the roads.

John Murphy — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Great. Thank you very much, guys. Appreciate it.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Great, John. Thank you.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Rajat Gupta from J.P. Morgan. Please go ahead.

Rajat Gupta — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking the questions. And Mike, I just wanted to add to John’s comments as well. Congrats on a great career, and best of luck going forward. Yeah, I just had couple of questions, starting with F&I. Really strong numbers here in the third quarter despite the lower mix of new vehicles versus used. I’m sure the ASPs had a benefit there. But just curious, is there anything else that’s going on there, maybe penetration or some new products that’s driving that number? And just curious as to how we should think about the sustainability of that? And I just have one follow-up on SG&A.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Rajat. I’ll answer that. So first of all, your assumptions and observations are correct as far as the relative F&I or CSS, as we call it, between new and used, but the real driver for us has been increased penetration. And as we continue to see that improve, it obviously impacts whether it’s new or used, which has resulted again in very favorable trends pretty consistently over the last several quarters, and our expectation is that will continue. The pace of improvement, we obviously watch closely, but we don’t see any significant threats to what we’re doing in that part of the marketplace just given the fact that it really is driven by penetration rather than other factors.

Rajat Gupta — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Got it. And the penetration, is that across both finance and service contracts one versus the other driving that? Just trying to think like which part of that might be more longer term? Finance maybe benefiting from just higher ASPs and lower rates, I guess, because the monthly payments are optimized. But I’m just curious is the service contracts…

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

It’s more product or if you want to call it service. It’s really more driven by that. As I think you know about two-thirds of F&I for us comes out of product versus financing. And we continue to see that area grow in the number of products and the number of customers that we’re penetrating. And so it’s much more of that than it is a financing or rates issue.

Rajat Gupta — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Got it. Got it. And just on SG&A, you’ve given some good color, Joe, the background, like the sensitivity there and what your medium term targets are. But how should we think about given like productivity continues to get better every quarter, is there any change to how you’re thinking about that ratio longer term or maybe like just making changes in your incentive model within the store that could also lead to a more structural change to that number? F&I is looking much higher than before, that has more leverage. So just curious, any updated thoughts there? And if we can get any updated sensitivities around SG&A to gross versus just GPUs once you’re back to more normal supply-demand environment? Thanks.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sure. The way I think about it, we always talk about the three buckets. We talk about compensation. We talk about advertising. We talk about store and corporate overhead. As I look at those items, let’s start with store and corporate overhead, from a dollar standpoint, flat year-over-year. So obviously, maintaining that discipline through the increased activity of the business is very important. I anticipate that we’ll continue to make that strong discipline within the store and corporate overhead line.

Advertising, modest increase in total dollars year-over-year, in part driven by rates, but again, very modest. We’ll continue to watch that closely. That also improve though as a percentage of growth. And then you get the comp. And compensation increased about $83 million, $81 million of that was variable comp in the stores, which candidly is the model you want, which is obviously record gross profit that’s being generated in the stores and that’s going to translate into the compensation, and obviously that will vary as does profitability.

So I feel like we are maintaining the discipline we need despite always looking for ways to continue to drive out cost and acknowledge that variable comp will fluctuate as it should with a model that really is predicated upon production. And so that’s kind of how I think about the model and why I feel pretty good about where we are and why I feel confident as I look out the next couple of quarters, seeing the success we’re having and maintaining the discipline on controllable cost and recognizing the only real fluctuations are variable associated with compensation in the stores.

Rajat Gupta — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Got it. Got it. But there is no change to like just long-term SG&A growth level, and you’ve indicated like 65%, 66%. So just that’s still on pretty much on track, right, for a normalized number?

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

It’s going to be a long-term thing, but I clearly think we’ve demonstrated that we can operate the business at a lower relative costs than we’ve done historically, in large part by the deployment of digital tools that are making our sales and service associates far more effective. And that’s translating into the fact that we’ve been able to continue to operate with 3,000 plus fewer heads within the store environment on a same store basis year-over-year.

Rajat Gupta — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Understood, great. Thanks for all the color, and I’ll get back in the queue.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you.

Operator

We take our next question from Rick Nelson from Stephens. Please go ahead.

Rick Nelson — Stephens — Analyst

Hi, thanks. Good morning. Mike, congrats on a great career. It’s been a pleasure. [Indecipherable] at AutoNation I think you had 400 million shares outstanding. Pretty incredible. So I guess, to start, maybe if you could provide some color around M&A, like the environment there? You announced a new deal today, Priority 1, curious about that acquisition? If you could comment on kind of multiples that you’re seeing out there that would be helpful?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

So we obviously are thrilled with the M&A we did this year. And we have a broad view of the opportunity on capital and we look at the returns across all capital opportunities. And as you know, we do share repurchase as an opportunity to buy AutoNation ourselves, but there certainly are acquisitions that we’re just thrilled to have. And on the new vehicle franchise, absolutely fit into our footprint and our operating structure, and we’re delighted with what we’ve done. But at the same time, we intend to grow with AutoNation USA and we intend to invest in our existing stores. We intend to invest in our digital capability. So it’s sort of a — we’re in a position of doing all of the above. So when we see an acquisition that returns look very good to us. And from the culture and operating point of view, it fits with us, we will not hesitate to make the acquisition.

Rick Nelson — Stephens — Analyst

Thanks for that. Also curious on the inventory, you are sitting with 10 days of supply here at the end of the quarter on new car side. Curious, where do you think we’ll go from here? Do things get tighter over the near-term or are things starting to get better from a production standpoint? And which of the OEMs do you think are starting to ramp production and which ones are coming slower?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

So on the production side, it’s been unpredictable journey with almost every forecast or information we are getting from the manufacturers. There has been surprised and twists and turns. And here we are in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the chip shortage and component shortages remain a serious disruption to the production of new vehicles. My feeling is, and if you look at the history, I have actually always been reticent to say what I think is going to happen because of that unpredictability.

My sense is that some time in the first half of next year production will begin to return to a trend line that is more recognizable, but I don’t think that will show up in inventory. So then theoretically — and there can be distortions when the numbers get these extreme. The days supply number could move, but we don’t really focus on it at that point. So our inventory is maybe about as low as we can take it considering the friction of cars actually arriving, being prepared and going out the door. We’re down 5,000, 6,000 units, but that’s — we’ve demonstrated the ability to manage the situation very well. We saw the opportunity with pre-owned, nearly new. We have been aggressively being out there purchasing them and have been able to sell them and just look at the phenomenal growth in our pre-owned business with the revenue improvement of 50%.

So — and we’ve adjusted pricing to reflect the supply-demand situation that existed in the marketplace. And we have consumers that are basically choosing to do one of three things. They say, yes, that vehicle is close enough to what I want and I understand the pricing situation and they purchase the vehicle or they buy something near to new or they pick something that’s in the pipeline or they tell us they want to see us next year. And in that last category, we count that as pent-up demand because the new vehicle business is running below any sort of trend that you can think of.

So hopefully, this is the bottom of where production is and that we see gradual improvement. Inventories are about as low, in my opinion, as we can physically take them. But of course, our operations are looking at every vehicle to see if we can take it lower, but it can’t be meaningful if we’re down to 5,000, 6,000 new vehicles in stock.

Rick Nelson — Stephens — Analyst

That’s a great color. Thanks a lot. Good luck, and look forward to staying in touch. Thanks.

Operator

We take our next question from Bret Jordan from Jefferies. Bret, please go ahead.

Bret Jordan — Jefferies — Analyst

Hey, good morning, guys.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Good morning.

Bret Jordan — Jefferies — Analyst

On the AutoNation USA side of the business, as you’ve got a few more units out, are you seeing attachment with customer pay service? Is that a model that’s going to build out as these people bring their cars back post-purchase?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

We don’t really think so. That was one of our learnings from the prototypes that we launched earlier. And we modified the layout of the facility and took cost out, because we didn’t see that as an opportunity. So now we have the cost of the store down to $10 million, $11 million. And the purpose of the facility is delivery center and physical delivery to a customer and a delivery center remains where 95% of the customers want to be absolutely. Repositioning to a high standard that it can be done cost effectively and quickly, I can’t appetite that enough. And acquisitions that where customer can — consumers can bring a vehicle and get it a check for their vehicles. That’s the role of the AutoNation USA store. And we have modified the level of investment for the fact that we don’t see a big customer service component within that facility.

Bret Jordan — Jefferies — Analyst

Okay, great. And then I guess on the collision side, you’re putting 17 of your stores to Calibre. Is that something that you sort of see strategically you’re reducing collision exposure? I mean, you sort of talk about how you see that segment going forward.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. That was a result of a strategic review of the business and looking at where we were generating the highest profitability. We are clearly not exiting the business, but saw it as an opportunity where we could improve the returns on those facilities through a partnership. As you saw in the recent acquisitions, we’ve actually through the two recent acquisitions added four additional collision centers. So we do see collision as a very complementary business, but where it is not really complementary to our business, the relationship we established with Calibre really is a higher return for us. And that was the rationale behind the decision.

Bret Jordan — Jefferies — Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you.

Operator

We take our next question from Stephanie Moore from Truist. Please go ahead.

Stephanie Moore — Truist Securities — Analyst

Hi, good morning, and congrats on a great quarter.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Stephanie Moore — Truist Securities — Analyst

I think we talked a lot about more of the supply side of the equation this morning, I’d love to get your thoughts on just the overall strength of the consumer. How much the consumer is willing to pay down, down payments, anything there? It’s interesting just given where we are with such high used vehicle pricing. Is the fear eventually of a negative equity coming through in the years ahead is sort of on your radar? Just love to hear your thoughts on again just the strength of the consumer and how we should think in the next coming years?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Excellent question. And the other side of the coin on these pre-owned values that is not fully understood is that this is a huge win for consumers. Consumers are very happy that the value of the 275 million vehicles on the roads of America that they own have appreciated in value, and this is very meaningful to them. And it’s one of the underpinnings of why business remains so good. Customers just are thrilled that what they bought is worth so much some years ago, and it gives them confidence in the brand and confidence that they’re making good decision and most of them are looking at a trade-in value here for the difference between what their vehicle is worth and what they’re buying in as the key component.

So when it comes to the automobile, the American consumer is looking at it as well, hey, this is my freedom, this is my independence, it is harmful COVID area, I can go where I want, care who is in the vehicle with me and by the way, I’m looking pretty smart with my vehicle is worth more than what I thought was going to be at this point and maybe I can trade it for a reasonable difference on something that is a bit newer with fewer mileage or is completely new. So once you see that in the behavior of the consumers and the attitude of the consumer, it’s a positive for the business in total.

Stephanie Moore — Truist Securities — Analyst

Got it. Understood. Well, thank you so much.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Absolutely.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] We take our next question from David Whiston from Morningstar. Please go ahead.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

David, we’re not hearing if you’re speaking.

Operator

David Whiston, your line is open.

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Sorry, guys. Can you hear me now?

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

We can.

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Okay. Sorry about that. As you were talking a few minutes ago about how consumers are basically in several buckets in terms of some will buy close to what they want, some will just use, some will just say next year. But compared to a few months ago, are we seeing more people are more willing to buy not quite what they want or more people are starting to hang on and just wait till better?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

It’s really one of those all of the above. So you have consumers who say that’s close enough, and I understand the pricing in this environment and I want to move ahead with the purchase. And then obviously the fact that we’re down to 5,000 vehicles in stock or 6,000 vehicles in stock means there is significant demand there. But we have far more demand than we have shipments coming to us or inventory. And so it’s a significant number. We give them a choice around a nearly new [Indecipherable] very well. But I have to tell you, the pent-up demand is building and all of that is awaiting into ’22 and ’23. So there is a down wave of pent-up demand that is building. And even though we are growing our business and had an 18% increase in revenue. It’s not like we’re exhausting the demand out there at all. So I’m very pleased on the pre-owned side for AutoNation. We’re clearly taking market share with our brand and our aggressive acquisition strategy. We’re selling everything we can on the new side. We’re selling deep into the pipeline. Consumers have shown that they expect waiting 30 to 60 days. And they’re not switching necessarily to build-to-order, but they’re definitely buying the pipeline. And we’re giving them visibility into what’s coming, and they make a pre-selection and are comfortable waiting. But at the end of the day, the demand is building, not declining.

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Okay. And do you believe GM and Ford will follow through active chip shortage than run at low inventory levels than pre-pandemic?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

I couldn’t hear the question.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Can you repeat that please, Dave? Was it GM — did you say GM and Ford?

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Yeah. I was saying, do you believe that they will follow through after the chip shortage and run at inventory lower levels than before the pandemic like they’re saying they will?

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

All right. Listen, I think this God awful unbelievable pandemic that no one in this or mankind would ever wish for, there are learnings for the industry that have been taken to heart. I really believe that the production, push, liquidation, instant gratification business model that has been corrosive for the year — for the auto industry is in the dust bin of history. And not that I believe the situation as we have it now where they can’t even produce at let’s say trend to supply both the fleet business and the retail business at reasonable run rate.

No, I’m not saying we’re going to run here at this where we are today, but I think going back to the data, production, push and liquidation and all the destructive behavior that comes with that including damage to the consumer and the value of their automobile and value in the portfolio of the manufacturers in their finance company, I think there is a symphony like why would we ever want to go back to that, we have an historic opportunity that they deeply learned lessons here and find a new way forward.

That’s what’s in discussion with every manufacturer. And I think that paints a brighter future for our industry at every level. Manufacturer, supplier, retailer and everybody. It’s better for the consumer. You’re protecting what they’ve invested and are behaving in a much more rational way. And I think that’s the future of the auto industry. So out of every horrific thing you go through, there should be indelible lessons that you don’t forget. And I think that’s where the auto industry has concluded.

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Yeah, I agree with you. And then last question, are you worried about inflation next year impacting consumers’ ability to buy a vehicle?

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

David, what was the word you used? Worried about inflection?

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Inflation.

Joe Lower — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Inflation. I’m sorry.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Joe, this is a very good question. Thank you for asking it. So of course, we’re watching inflation in the CPI. And you see the big component that pre-owned is in that and everybody is going, oh my God, this guy is calling inflation, inflation, inflation. What they’ve missed is the consumer is very happy with that pre-owned valuation that they own, that the 275 million vehicles on the roads of America are worth more. That has made the consumer happy not unhappy. They own those vehicles.

So once you see the other side of the coin there that consumers are not unhappy, they don’t consider it inflation, they said, I’ve made a pretty good investment here in this vehicle, it’s worth more. And if I want to sell it, I can get a nice check. And if I want to trade it, I’d have a reasonable difference. As soon as you realize that, the consumer doesn’t view that as inflation, but as a win for them, then you understand our optimism and our confidence about the future of owned motors.

David Whiston — Morningstar — Analyst

Okay, great. That’s helpful. Mike, congratulations. Thank you.

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions]

Mike Jackson — Chief Executive Officer and Director

All right, excellent. I think we’ve answered every question today. Thank you for all your questions. I’m not going to say over the years, I’m going to say over the decade, that’s accurate statements, I’m very grateful for them, and I wish you all nothing but the best. Thank you for joining today.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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