Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Efficiency boosts Copart earnings

October 19, 2004

By Matthew Bunk

FAIRFIELD -- Copart's annual revenue topped $400 million for the first time in the auto salvager's 22-year history.

Sales and income were up and operating costs went down, the Fairfield-based company announced Friday in its annual report for fiscal 2004. Much of the growth can be attributed to an online auto auction system adopted in December, Copart said.

By using computer technology called Virtual Bidding Second Generation, Copart was able to widen its market base and generate healthier profits on vehicle sales. All of Copart's auctions now take place using VB2, which allows buyers from all over the world to access Copart auctions.

Prior to the unveiling of VB2 in December, buyers of salvage vehicles had to go to one of Copart's auto lots to bid.

"It (VB2) has improved the efficiency of our operations," Copart said in its annual statement. "We believe the implementation of VB2 across our salvage operations has increased the pool of available buyers for each sale and the added competition has increased the amount buyers are willing to pay for salvage from us."

Sales of vehicles to buyers outside the state where the vehicle is located accounted for 41 percent of total vehicles sold in fiscal 2004. Twenty-four percent of salvage vehicles were sold to out of state buyers and 17 percent were sold to buyers out of country.

Copart's year-end financial figures echoed the company's success with VB2.

Revenues were $400.8 million, an increase of approximately $53.4 million, or 15 percent, compared to $347.4 million in fiscal 2003. Copart said the increase was due primarily to increased salvage vehicle volume, new service revenue and higher fees resulting from increased auction proceeds per vehicle.

Net income rose to $79.2 million from $57.2 million the year before. Income represented 19.8 percent of revenues, up from 16.5 percent a year ago.

Copart acquired six vehicle storage and auction facilities during the past year, bringing the total number of Copart properties in the U.S. and Canada to 107. The new facilities generated $1.4 million in new revenue, the company said.

Operating expenses for the year dropped slightly to $68.9 million. It was down from $73.9 million in 2003.

Copart's performance landed it at No. 76 on Forbes' list of the 200 best small companies in 2004. The list was released Monday.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or mbunk@dailyrepublic.net

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