Uber's Carnage: the Rise of Distressed Taxis

New York City Taxi Medallions Selling at Significant Discounts

Uber's Carnage (Distressed Taxis). As taxi medallion owners continue to struggle, Evgeny Friedman's bankrupt taxi companies are establishing "market value" for the New York City taxi medallion - and it's at the low end of a recently established spectrum. The New York Times writes, "In August alone, 12 of the 21 medallion sales were part of foreclosures; the prices of all the sales ranged from $150,000 to $450,000 per medallion." Friedman's medallions sold last week to a hedge fund for $186k/each for a block of 46. As context, medallions were once worth as much as $1.3mm. Considering that there are approximately 13.8k taxis in New York City today, one observer noted that it would take Uber (or Lyft), approximately $2.6b to simply buy out the entirety of the City's fleet at that valuation - a cost of a small percentage of Uber's supposedly sizable market cap. So there you have it: "disruption," quantified.

An Auto Dumpster Fire. Thanks @Uber. ($HTZ)

We've covered the Uber-effect as it relates to taxis - in particular the precipitous decline in the value of tax medallions, requests for bailouts (in New York), and bankruptcies all across the country (most notably in San Francisco). With auto loan delinquencies on the rise and the used car market looking over-supplied, it's time for more blood in the water. Hertz Global Holdings' 52-week high is $53. It now trades at $15 and that is UP from its low of $7. It reports Q1 earning on 5/8 but last quarter was a bloodbath with EBITDA down 85+% y-o-y. Leverage as of last quarter was 7x pre-cash. On a quick glance the Icahn-backed company has plenty of liquidity - including a largely untapped Barclays revolver - but there could be some near-term covenant issues. And with more and more corporate travelers relying on Uber and Lyft, Hertz' management had better pack windbreakers. Meanwhile, auto dealers are looking for creative ways to alleviate their own pain with upstarts like vroom.com disintermediating the (frustratingly painful) process of purchasing a car. To the extent that anyone is actually purchasing a car. Bueller, Bueller?