CarMax (KMX) quarterly report came out on April 11, vividly displaying why any immediate investment into the used car market still sounds like not a good idea. The stock quickly lost ground, wasting a double-digit number of percentage points as a response to its net income drop to $0.32 per share against $0.44 cents per share a year ago, also compared to much stronger $0.52, $0.75 and $1.44 per share in the previous three quarters. Analyst polls estimated a net income per share at about $0.50, which would be 56% better than the reality.

This almost looks like a financial fiasco in the company's efforts to withstand slowing demand in the segment. CarMax Q4 2023 revenue decreased by 1.7% to $5.6 billion, slightly below consensus expectations of $5.8 billion, indicating the lack of gross marginality of the business. This happened even though the total supply of unsold used vehicles on dealer lots grew by 9% YoY to 2.27 million units in March, according to Cox Automotive data. CarMax CEOs delayed their own goal of selling over 2 million units annually, when measuring combined retail and wholesale actions, to between 2026 and 2030, from its prior target of 2026.

A "higher-for-longer" Fed fund rates is demonstrably bad for car sales volumes, be it new generation Tesla cars or just pre-owned vehicles, while operating costs for warehouses are growing. Besides, easing some semiconductor constraints in North America may help marginally improving orders for new cars, leaving used-car sales under the same pressure. Meanwhile, the entrance of Asia players offered significant discounts. Therefore, North American and European operators of the used car market need to sell many great cars at cheaper prices. CarMax already posted its official warning of a potential "hit to profit-sharing revenue" due to inflationary impact to its partners, before last Christmas. "While affordability of used cars remains the challenge for consumers, pricing improved during the quarter," Enrique Mayor-Mora, executive vice president and CFO admitted.

It was only a smaller division of CarMax Auto Finance, which managed to get a 19% better income due to "a lower provision for loan losses" and an increase in average managed receivables. Yet, this was rather news from the side business, which was clearly not enough to be optimistic. The company added that it is now focused on enhancing its omni-channel experience and leveraging data science and automation. Carmax said it delivered "strong retail and wholesale" graphic processors, which helped to increase "used saleable inventory units" more than 10%, but used total inventory units was unchanged despite innovations. The company seeks to achieve efficiency improvements in its core operations, believing that they "are well-positioned to drive growth as the market turns", according to Enrique Mayor-Mora. This may be useful to strengthen competitiveness in better times for the segment. Yet, the current challenges are too heavy to be ignored by market crowds.