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AutoNation Sales Forecast

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AutoNation Sales Forecast (Hult San Francisco, Meadows [1]): You are an analyst at a private equity fund. Your boss is working on a potential transaction to take AutoNation (Links to an external site.)private in a leveraged buyout. He is developing a monthly cash flow model and he needs monthly sales forecasts for the next 24 months. He has asked you to use the national sales data to create a national forecast for the automotive industry and then use that to forecast AutoNation sales as 2% share of the national forecast. We will assume it is 1st of April 2014 and you are projecting monthly sales for the next 24 months, e.g. from April 2014 through March 2016.
You have the data for the monthly grocery sales from the U.S. government’s monthly retail sales surveyPreview the documentView in a new window. The data provided covers the years 2003 through 2014. You also have the Gross Domestic Product quarterly data over the last 12 yearsPreview the documentView in a new window.
For your convenience I have already organized the 12-years sales data in one single worksheet in this filePreview the documentView in a new window. I still recommend that you browse the original file above (U.S. government….) so that you see all the industries sales data are tracked monthly.
Your ultimate goal is to produce a recommendation of the monthly sales forecast to be used in the valuation model of the buyout. You must include, on top of the actual sales figures, insights about the automotive industry. The following are the minimum required tasks you should do to provide the recommendation, but feel free to run additional analysis or propose different forecast if you feel they would suit better:
1.Understand if there is a “trend” on automotive sales. Is the industry growing, decreasing or remaining flat? On top of economy, briefly list other potential factors for the trend found.
2.Can you identify any pattern to the sales that repeats every year? Mention at least three reasons, based on your own experience, for this “seasonality”.
3.Prepare a linear forecast using dummy variables to identify the seasonality by month.
4.Prepare a forecast that on top of time also uses GDP to explain the sales changes in the automotive industry. Does this forecast contradict the trend from your previous forecast? Why?
6. Finally, choose among those two methods and prepare a final recommendation of the monthly AutoNation sales forecast for 2014-2016 should your boss use. Explain why you chose that method (linear with dummy months, or GDP with dummy quarters).
Table 1: Estimated U.S. GDP Growth expressed in percentage change versus previous quarter.
Q2 2014
Q3 2014
Q4 2014
Q1 2015
Q2 2015
Q3 2015
Q4 2015
Q1 2016
Submit one-pager Word recommendation (inclusive of your name, date, report title, references, etc) using font size 10 or larger, with your sales forecast as well as the points outlined above, accompanied by the supporting calculations in an Excel file.
Do not structure your paper as Questions and Answers, write it like a business report. Through titles, sub-titles, sections, paragraphs, tables, and charts walk the reader through your findings of the automotive industry and its impact by the economy, as well as proposing the sales forecast to be used to valuate AutoNation.

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