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This article originally appeared in the March 2003 Issue of INSIGHT

A Good Start Goes Kaputsky

War jitters, terrorism scares, weather, and you name it - everything seems to be going against the Market.

For the last 30 days, 21 stocks down and three up. It looks like my prediction of a good year or at least the start of a good year is kaputsky (Slovenian for gone).

The one stock that continues to hold any life is Keystone Automotive. Reports of strong growth in some store sales of six or seven percent have pushed this stock higher.

Insurers are looking for any way to bring down severity, and the differential in cost between aftermarket and OE has certainly captured their attention. Insurers may be skating on thin ice in terms of policyholder CSI and retentions as they move to specify aftermarkets on current model year vehicles. Their approach does not seem quite right.

If State Farm is successful in its appeal in Illinois, the flood gates will truly open and Keystone will be the obvious big winner with the OEs, OE dealers, shop owners, and vehicle owners on the other side.

Refinish manufacturers are planning, sensibly I think, to keep their belts tightened throughout 2003. It will definitely be a flat year for paint. Cost-cutting measures instituted over a year ago have really helped the paint makers despite a no-growth climate.

Our INSIGHT Fund Index is a bit under the weather this month, with its first negative change since October of last year, down this month by almost 0.5 percent. Our fund, however, has been performing considerably better than many of the country’s investment funds, and I think it will continue to do so.

In terms of business for the collision repair industry, the year is off to a poor start with paint manufacturers, OE parts producers, and shops all agreeing that business is soft. I visited a 40,000 square foot shop in Detroit last week that had three vehicles on the floor, only two of which were going to be repaired. The techs barely had something to do.

Despite some record-breaking snow storms sweeping from the midwest to the Atlantic coast, it seems that the extremely bad weather closed down many cities completely. We probably will not be seeing big jumps in numbers of accidents for this frigid month - Many drivers just gave up and stayed home!

Everything I need to know I learned from Noah’s Ark

  1. Don’t miss the boat.
  2. We’re all in the same boat.
  3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
  4. Don’t listen to critics. Just get on with the job that needs to be done.
  5. Remember that the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

-Charles Baker-

 

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