Advance Auto Parts, Inc. (NYSE:AAP) is a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider in North America. The types of products sold by the company include parts & batteries, accessories and chemicals, and engine-related maintenance products, such as air filters and transmission fluid. Their customers include both professionals and DIYers. As of December 31, 2021, sales to professionals accounted for nearly 60% of total net sales.
As an aftermarket parts supplier, AAP benefits from providing automotive solutions to older vehicles that need more continuous repairs & maintenance. In the current market environment, AAP is poised to benefit from widespread affordability constraints of purchasing a vehicle.
In May 2022, the average new-vehicle transaction price is expected to reach nearly +$45K, which would be up 16% from 2021. Prices for used cars offer no better alternative, with prices up nearly 30% from January 2021. As such, there is a greater likelihood of individuals holding onto their cars for as long as they can. In fact, the average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways reached a record high of 12.2 years in 2021. For AAP, this means increased demand for brakes and brake pads, batteries, tires, and other accessories.
AAP also benefits as total vehicle miles traveled increases. In 2019, total miles driven reached 3.26T, before plummeting to 2.83T during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data has since improved and is now at or near 2019 levels. With increased travel comes greater maintenance requirements.
With the wind at their back from an aging vehicle fleet and total miles driven, one would not expect AAP to be underperforming the broader market. Yet, AAP is down nearly 20% YTD, which is worse than the S&P’s 13% decline over the same period. For investors seeking an under-the-radar play in the automotive sector, AAP is one name worth extra attention.
Earnings Review and Other Reportable Events
In the first quarter ended April 23, 2022, AAP reported total net sales of +$3.4B, which was up 1.3% from the same period last year, but +$20M short of estimates.
Through the first ten weeks of the year, AAP had a strong start, with YTD comparable store sales up mid-single digits. The final six weeks, however, came under pressure from flagging DIY sales, resulting in mid-single digit declines in comparable sales.
Weighing on the DIY comparisons were the impacts of economic stimulus payments in the prior year and a slower start in the current period, especially in the northern regions, due to colder and wetter weather patterns.
Despite weakness in DIY, overall comparable store sales were up 0.6% from the prior year and 25.3% on a two-year basis. The increase represented the 8th consecutive quarter of comparable store sales growth. Likewise, both adjusted operating income and adjusted EPS grew for the 8th straight quarter.
Gross profit margins came in at 44.6%, which was