Pep Boys, Advance Auto see rise in service revenue

Those who are still driving clunkers tend to want to nurse them along, repairing them until a mechanic tells us there’s no choice but to get some new wheels.

At least, that what we say. But do we do what needs to be done to keep our cars rolling?

The business research firm Frost & Sullivan surveyed 1,085 people about regular vehicle maintenance and finds that we’re changing our oil and getting brakes inspected less frequently than we did in 2006.

Frost & Sullivan blames it on the economic turmoil, but two of the big auto-parts chains say their service operations are benefiting from consumers’ repair, rather than replace, urge.

Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack yesterday said sales for stores open at least a year were down 2.3 percent during its quarter ended Aug. 1. But service revenue was up 5.2 percent. Merchandise sales were weak, the Philadelphia company said.

“Our service center and commercial businesses show strong revenue growth,” said Mike Odell, Pep Boys’ chief executive officer, in a statement.

Last month, Advance Auto Parts Inc. also said its customer traffic was strong and that service revenue was holding up well.

Airgas in S&P 500

Joining one of the most widely watched equity indexes can do wonders for a stock’s activity.

Airgas Inc., the Radnor distributor of gases used in health-care and industrial settings, joined the Standard & Poor’s 500 index after the stock market closed yesterday.

Because so many mutual funds, exchange traded funds and other investment vehicles track the makeup of the S&P 500, there was a flurry of buying and selling of Airgas shares.

In all, 15.5 million Airgas shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange - 15 times its average daily volume over the last year.

At yesterday’s closing price of $45.92, Airgas now has a market value of $3.76 billion. Shares rose 37 cents, or 0.8 percent.

Airgas had been a part of the S&P MidCap 400 stock index, so other funds were selling yesterday as Airgas made the transition to large capitalization stock from “mid-cap.”