Car-Mart to buy Central Auto Sales in Hot Springs

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 744 views 

Rogers-based America’s Car-Mart Inc. will acquire the dealership assets of Hot Springs-based Allied Union Group Inc., a company doing business as Central Auto Sales, according to a Friday (Dec. 1) news release. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to the release, the deal is expected to close by the end of this month and is being completed through a Car-Mart subsidiary. The deal will exclude the existing finance receivables, which will be collected by the seller. Car-Mart will have 154 dealerships after the acquisition is completed.

Mike and Stacey Steven-Assheuer founded Central Auto Sales in Hot Springs in 1996. The acquisition “will enhance Car-Mart’s presence in Hot Springs and expand its reconditioning capabilities,” the release shows.

“This transaction is consistent with our strategy to grow the business through acquisitions, delivering exceptional returns for our shareholders while providing exit opportunities for owner-operators and offering future growth prospects for their associates,” Car-Mart CEO Douglas Campbell said. “Mike and Stacey have created a robust business that provides affordable, high-quality vehicles and exceptional customer service. We warmly welcome them and their committed team of associates to the Car-Mart family.”

In Car-Mart’s Aug. 17, 2022, earnings report for the first quarter of fiscal 2023, former CEO Jeff Williams noted the company planned to continue acquiring dealerships to increase its footprint. As of July 31, 2022, the company had 154 dealerships, up three from the same day in 2021. As of July 31, 2023, Car-Mart still had 154 dealerships. On Oct. 1, Campbell became CEO, and Williams transitioned to an emeritus role. Williams is expected to continue working for the company through fiscal 2024, which ends April 30, 2024. After that, Williams will become a company consultant.

“Selling our business was a difficult decision, and we have turned down several offers in the past,” said Stacey Steven-Assheuer. “When America’s Car-Mart approached us, we were intrigued by the synergies and similarities between our companies, and we knew it was the right fit. Car-Mart shares our goal of providing excellent customer service, offering growth opportunities and investing in our team members who are the heart of our organization.”

“Stacey and I are excited to start a new journey with Car-Mart and create a brighter future for our company and associates,” said Mike Steven-Assheuer. “Car-Mart brings strength to the industry and a commitment to excellence for our customers, employees and community. We are grateful to be joining one of the largest publicly traded automotive retailers in the United States.”

In December 2019, Car-Mart announced its first deal to acquire a dealership group. The company previously acquired some one-location dealerships, but the 2019 deal to buy Taylor Motors comprised the first dealership group the company purchased. Last year, the company created a new role to lead the company’s acquisitions and named the former owner of Taylor Motors to the position.

According to the Friday news release, a 15-lift maintenance facility at Central Auto Sales will be integrated into Car-Mart’s operations. “After 25 years in the automotive business, Mike and Stacey’s expertise will be invaluable to Car-Mart as we enhance our vehicle reconditioning and warranty servicing abilities,” said Mike Robortaccio, vice president of mergers and acquisitions for Car-Mart.

Before the markets open Tuesday (Dec. 5), Car-Mart is expected to report earnings for the second quarter of fiscal 2024. Based on a consensus of four analysts, Car-Mart’s earnings are projected to rise to 78 cents per share in the period ending Oct. 31 from 48 cents per share in the same period last year. Revenue is expected to rise by 3.4% to $363.76 million from $351.84 million.

Shares of Car-Mart (NASDAQ: CRMT) were trading Friday at $76.90, down $2.97 or 3.72%. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged between $62.05 and $127.96.