Investors gave a green light to Carson automotive e-commerce company U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. after it announced a new partnership for subsidiary AutoMD Inc., an online automotive repair resource.
On Oct. 8, the company reported that Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a Southfield, Mich., auto parts manufacturer, and Cox Automotive Inc. of Atlanta, owner of AutoTrader.com and Kelley Blue Book, had bought into AutoMD. It’s a deal that should cut U.S. Auto Parts’ costs for running the so-far unprofitable site and potentially bring in more customers and revenue.
After the announcement, U.S. Auto Parts shares rose 26 percent for the week ended Oct. 15 to close at $2.79, making it by far the biggest gainer on the LABJ Stock Index. (See page 44.) U.S. Auto Parts was the only company on the index to see a double-digit gain for the week as markets tumbled.
AutoMD helps car owners compare quotes on repair jobs from local repair shops, and offers do-it-yourself maintenance and repair guides. The site earns revenue by selling advertisements and charging fees to repair shops that get customers through the site. But it’s been a money-loser so far, with net losses of $2 million in each of the past two years.
Shane Evangelist, chief executive of U.S. Auto Parts, said Federal-Mogul has relationships with auto repair shops and will help get more shops to join the site, while Cox Automotive can refer more visitors to AutoMD through its consumer-facing websites, including KBB.com and AutoTrader.com.
What’s more, those two companies will help cover losses if AutoMD remains unprofitable. That’s likely, as the company is for now focused on growing its traffic and signing up more auto repair shops.
Federal-Mogul, Cox and existing U.S. Auto Parts investors paid $7 million for a 36 percent stake in AutoMD – meaning they’ll cover 36 percent of losses.
The day after U.S. Auto Parts announced the partnership, Newport Beach brokerage Roth Capital Partners initiated coverage of the stock with a “Buy” rating and a price target of $4.50.
The company’s earnings have also been steadily improving. U.S. Auto Parts reported revenue of $76.9 million in the second quarter, up 13 percent over the same period last year. The company’s net loss for the quarter was $2.2 million, or 7 cents a share, down from $9.6 million, or 29 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
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