Hertz Global Holdings, Inc Gets Clobbered For Weak Earnings

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Hertz Global Holdings, Inc (NYSE:HTZ) stock tanked last night after the company posted results that missed expectations and lowered guidance by a wide margin. The earnings report triggered at least one analyst downgrade and sliced the company’s stock price in half, although the shares bounced and are down by “only” 26% at $26.22.

Just yesterday, Hertz stock was trading at around $35 per share, and today’s declines were on track to be the biggest one-day percentage decline since the company’s initial public offering in November 2006.

Hertz’s earnings, guidance disappoint

Hertz Global posted adjusted earnings of $1.58 per share and $2.54 billion in revenue, compared to the consensus estimates of $2.73 per share and $2.59 billion. Adjusted corporate EBITDA amounted to $329 million, also coming up short of the consensus of $473.5 million.

The company also slashed its forecasts, mostly due to lower fleet utilization and greater depreciation costs for its vehicles. Hertz’s adjusted corporate EBITDA is now guided to be between $575 million and $625 million, representing a 33% cut at the midpoint from the previous outlook of $575 million to $625 million. The company now projects free cash flow of between $250 million and $300 million, down from its previous outlook of $500 million to $600 million.

Hertz slashed its adjusted earnings per share outlook to between 51 cents and 88 cents per share from the previous outlook of $2.75 to $3.50 per share.

Deutsche Bank downgrades Hertz Global

Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Woronka called the third quarter earnings report “nothing short of a debacle” and downgraded the company’s stock from Buy to Hold. He also slashed his price target more than in half from $59 to $24 per share. He cited “a belief that the stock will reflect a newfound lack of confidence in earnings visibility and the company’s ability to provide achievable guidance.”

He noted that the reduced outlook is a concern in itself, but he sees the bigger concern as being fleet depreciation. Hertz mentioned a “downward revision of forward projections of residual values based on third party data,” which Woronka said triggered more questions for him than answers. As a result, he believes it will be very difficult for investors to have any conviction in terms of progress on the company’s turnaround strategy.

Icahn may have gotten clobbered by Hertz

There was a time when Hertz was a hot holding among hedge funds, although times have changed and many funds that once held the stock no longer do. Regulatory filings show that as of the end of June, Carl Icahn’s fund held nearly 13 million shares of the rental car company. Of course that might have changed since then, but anyone who still has a stake in Hertz is taking a hit today.

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The other names on the list, which include Vanguard Group and BlackRock Institutional Trust, appear to be mostly or all index funds.

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