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Hertz's profitability back on track, a company analysis

Shares hit 52-week high of $25 after trading for $1.55 in November 2008.

May 7, 2013
Hertz Corp. has its headquarters in Park Ridge, N.J. The company is moving its headquarters to Estero. / Peter Carr/The Journal News

Hertz Balance Sheet
• Cash – $653.8 million
• Debt – $16.3 billion
Source: Company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Shares of Hertz Global Holdings Inc. closed Monday at $24.96 after trading at a 52-week high of $25 earlier in the day. It was yet another milestone in the company’s turnaround since the shares traded for just $1.55 in November 2008.

On April 29, the company reported net income of $18 million on record revenue of $2.4 billion in the period ended March 31, compared to a loss of $54.2 million on revenue of about $2 billion for the same period a year ago.

Chairman and CEO Mark P. Frissora credited improved leasing in automobiles and equipment, but noted that the November acquisition of Dollar Thrifty was performing better than expected.

The acquisition, along with steep cost-cutting and strategic shifts, played a role in digging the company out of recession lows.

In 2008, the company reported a net loss of $1.2 million as the bottom fell out in the fourth quarter.

“Hertz experienced unprecedented volume, pricing and residual value contraction across all of its businesses in the fourth quarter of 2008,” Frissora said in a company release at the time.

By then, efforts to cut costs were already under way, and the company announced in January 2009 that it would lay off more than 4,000 workers as part of an effort to cut up to $170 million annually.

“Volume, pricing and residual values continued to decline during the most recently completed quarter, and we cannot predict when our markets will improve,” Frissora said at the time.

Hertz finished 2009 with a net loss of $111 million.

But, in 2010, the company made its initial offer in what would become a 2˝-year effort to acquire discount-oriented Dollar Thrifty. That acquisition, valued at $2.3 billion, closed in November 2012.

Hertz also began rolling out hourly rentals in major urban areas, including New York, Paris and London, as well as near college campuses, to reach customers while travelers remained grounded by the economy.

The annual loss was narrowed to $48 million in 2010.

In 2011, Hertz acquired fleet management company Donlen Corp., to further diversify its operations.

The traditional leasing environment continued to improve in 2011, with the company returning to annual profitability in 2011, with net income of $146 million. By the end of 2012, annual profits reached $243 million.

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