The firm has been building a new, online, nationwide dealership that’s thought of everything to make it easier (and more trustworthy) to buy a used car over the internet.
A huge selection (more than 20,000 vehicles), a seven-day test drive period, 360 degree views of every car, a guarantee that no car has been in a prior reported accident, financing options and an ever-expanding distribution network (one- or two-day delivery available in many markets) have all caused Carvana’s offering to be a hit.
However, while expansion has been rapid over the years (sales up at 50% to 100% rates, number of markets served up to 261 from 78 two years ago, and it’s now a huge buyer of cars from customers, too), the bottom line has been deep in the red, which has been part of the reason the stock has suffered many huge corrections (30% to 60%) along the way.
Now, though, investor perception may have changed, thanks partially to the pandemic, which has supercharged business and should have lasting effects — sales grew 41% in Q3 and are forecast to accelerate a bit from here (expected to rise 47% next year), while EBITDA actually turned positive.
And longer-term, management is sticking by its forecast of eventually selling more than two million vehicles per year (up from a 260,000 run rate in Q3) while EBITDA clocks in at 10% or so of revenues.
All in all, Carvana may be moving from wild upstart to emerging blue chip in the eyes of big investors, and that’s caused the stock to change character — shares mushroomed after the March low, and while CVNA hacked around for a while, it never gave up much of its gains and is toying with new highs. Some tightness or quiet trading could offer a solid entry point.