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Car rental companies are falling out of favor with both consumers and analysts

9 months ago by Jon Marino in Markets

Days after ride-sharing colossus Uber ($NYSE:UBER) made its much-anticipated debut on the stock market, finance news outlets are still going wire-to-wire in chronicling the paper losses of investors over the stock's rocky start. 

Yet, in an odd twist of fate, Barclays analysts are scaling back bullishness on legacy car rental companies, which are, in theory, being outplayed by Uber and other ride-sharing businesses. On Wednesday May 15, they reduced price targets on both Hertz ($NYSE:HTZ) and Avis ($NASDAQ:CAR) stock, respectively to $18-per-share from $19 and $36-per-share from $39.

In a year when both companies have already made substantial gains on public markets, our data provides some color for the analysts' call. 

Zipcar is Losing Traction on Social Media

Six years ago, Avis bought out ridesharing 1.0 disruptor Zipcar in a deal worth about $500 million. More recently, Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) data tracking Likes and brand mentions (talking about count) reflects that Zipcar is also losing traction on social media. 

Then again, as we learned from Uber, not every surge in social activity necessarily reflects positive engagement. Hertz is not doing too hot on the mobile front either — the company recently sued Accenture for $32 million, alleging the service provider failed to help the rental company make digital and mobile upgrades as advertised.  

Headcount Growth is Holding Steady

Neither company appears to be making cuts so far, according to data from LinkedIn ($NASDAQ:MSFT).

While both companies' LinkedIn Employee Count reflects a steady increase in workforce size, some of that growth could be attributable to the business networking site scaling, rather than the car rental company bolstering jobs. From their 2016 10-K reports to 2018, neither Avis nor Hertz said their overall headcount shrunk — Avis' held steady at 30,000 employees and Hertz's staff grew slightly according to their federal filings. 

Barclays' targets still reflect optimism that Avis' and Hertz's stocks will still grow in value, and neither has been dinged with a "Sell" rating by the bank's analysts. And — after all — both stocks are still having a way better 2019 than Uber... so far. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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