Cost-cutting measures, constrained fleet supply, and improving demand drove Avis Budget Group’s adjusted EBITDA to $47 million in the first quarter of 2021, its best first quarter adjusted EBITDA since 2015 and its third consecutive quarter of positive Adjusted EBITDA since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Avis finished the quarter with a 12% increase in revenue per day in the Americas compared to the same period in 2020, resulting in the Americas achieving a record first quarter Adjusted EBITDA margin.
The exceptional earnings came on one of the lowest first quarter revenue bases in company history, with revenue down 22% for the first quarter compared to the first quarter in 2020 and net loss of $170 million.
Adjusted EBITDA in its International division was nearly flat compared to first quarter 2020, excluding a $9 million negative currency exchange rate movement.
Like the U.S. car rental industry in general, Avis was able to take advantage of pricing opportunities based on returning demand as the U.S. emerges from the pandemic and an unprecedented supply constriction due to the worldwide semi-conductor chip shortage.
Bobit Business Media, parent of Auto Rental News, reported rental fleet sales of just 67,618 units in April 2021, a 52.2% drop compared to pre-pandemic sales in April 2019 of 141,385. The percentage decline is accelerating, as year to date the industry fleeted 360,491 units compared to 2019 year-to-date sales of 653,213 for a 48% decline.
Avis’s liquidity position at the end of the quarter was approximately $1.2 billion with an additional $4.8 billion of fleet funding capacity. Avis reported no meaningful maturities until 2023.
Noting the global semiconductor shortage and its effect on fleet supply, the world’s second largest car rental company believes it has the logistics in place to manage its fleet during the disruption. “We continue to get new car deliveries every day and believe we can increase our fleet utilization efficiency to capture increased demand,” the company said in the statement.
Avis declined to provide guidance, however, based on the COVID-19 vaccine roll out and its impact on the demand for the travel industry.