U.S. car rental firm Avis Budget tops revenue estimates as demand recovers

U.S. rental car company Avis Budget Group Inc (CAR.O) topped Wall Street estimates for first-quarter revenue on Monday, as more people started traveling again after getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Avis had to cut jobs and realign its fleet after the pandemic hammered rental demand in 2020, but things are starting to look up as vaccine rollouts gather pace and people get back on the road.

The company has said its business is now mainly centered around leisure customers.

“As demand started to recover in the Americas in the back half of the quarter, we optimized our fleet, resulting in higher utilization, and took advantage of pricing opportunities,” the company said in a statement.

“We continue to get new car deliveries every day and believe we can increase our fleet utilization efficiency to capture increased demand.”

Revenues recovered sequentially in the quarter, with revenue per day increasing 12% in the Americas, driven by improving demand.

Americas, the company’s largest market, posted a 14% fall in revenue to $1.08 billion versus last year, while revenue from its international segment fell 41%.

Excluding items, the company lost 46 cents per share.

Net loss came in at $170 million, or $2.43 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of $158 million, or $2.16 per share, last year.

Total revenue fell 22% to $1.37 billion, beating estimates of $1.29 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.