We like unusual business models, as long as they produce good results. A nice example is aftermarket auto parts supplier LKQ Corporation (Ticker: LKQX), first introduced to IAS subscribers in November 2008. Shares traded at $13.60 then, and their performance mostly matched the broader S&P 500 for two years, but then began outpacing the market in mid- to late 2010. After a nice run-up, shares had paused in the mid $20’s when we profiled LKQ again in June 2011 at $26.65.
As the only nationwide supplier of “alternative” replacement parts—including a broad line of refurbished parts pulled from wrecked vehicles—LKQ wins contracts with insurance companies who hire them to supply replacement parts for vehicle repairs and also to dispose of totaled vehicles. Through organic growth, combined with a multi-faceted acquisition strategy, management has assembled a vehicle recycling franchise that does to cars what the Chicago stockyards did to hogs—making use of everything but the “honk” in this case.
The company’s Fiscal Q1 earnings came around the same time our June 2011 profile ran. Results showed revenue growth of 30%, 14% organic and 16% from acquisitions. EPS rose 14%. Gross margins contracted slightly, but the company increased its full-year earnings estimates. Second quarter results were fairly similar, with 30% revenue growth and a 23% increase in EPS. We were pleased with the quarter, but the broader market was starting to sag, and LKQX shares came down 12% from their June levels.
Bottoming at $20.38 in August before recovering to the $25 level, shares got a nice boost in November when Q3 results came in ahead of investors’ expectations. EPS growth of 32% exceeded strong revenue growth of 29%. LKQ remained active on the acquisition front, and we wrote that a favorable demand environment should translate into more good things to come. The December quarter did not disappoint. Revenue grew 39%, with EPS growth of 31%, although the organic component of sales growth came down to the mid-single-digits.
We warned that mild weather trends could generate a soft quarter to come but that full-year results should show good growth. In fact, LKQ recently reported revenue up 31% in Q1, with EPS up 38%--so much for a slowdown. Shares popped 10% on the news, then rallied another 7% to a recent price of $35. That’s good for a 31% gain since our June 2011 profile. The S&P 500 has returned about 2% during the same period, mostly from dividends. LKQ does not pay a dividend.
Disclaimer: This company was selected for review in part because of its performance over the past year. Any outperformance relative to the broader market is not necessarily indicative of performance of the broader Investor Advisory Service.