One of the best-known and longstanding names in automotive data, R.L. Polk, is being absorbed into one of the fastest-growing research firms, IHS Automotive.
The $1.4 billion sale of Polk announced last week leaves LMC Automotive as the only major competitor to IHS in providing industry forecasts to automakers and large suppliers. By adding Polk's registration data to the wealth of information already collected by IHS, the companies can offer additional insight into the market to all "stakeholders who touch the vehicle from cradle to grave," IHS CEO Scott Key said.
But it also means manufacturers will have less competition among firms providing the data on which they rely.
"You've got a serious powerhouse of automotive information there," said Laurie Harbor, chairman of the Society of Automotive Analysts and president of Harbour Results, an industry consulting firm. "Now they can take it and do things that aren't even being done today. Tying them together creates a very positive ability to get some great information."
IHS Inc. bought CSM Worldwide, an automotive forecasting firm based near Detroit, in 2010 for about $27 million. It paid $200 million for the economic-forecasting firm Global Insight in 2008, soon after Global Insight purchased SupplierBusiness, which gathered intelligence on the auto supplier industry.
IHS also bought Chemical Market Associates Inc., a research firm used by many automotive plastics suppliers, in 2011
Automotive is one of four major fields IHS covers, along with energy, chemicals and electronics. Polk is the largest of about 70 acquisitions IHS has made in the past decade.
In addition to analytics, the deal also gives IHS a big revenue stream in Carfax, Polk's vehicle-history service that sells reports to dealers and consumers.
"For customers, this transaction will create common information, insight and analytics across the global automotive supply chain connecting all major segments of the automotive industry," Key said on a conference call with analysts. "With this full industry insight, IHS will significantly enhance customers' decision processes as we create full vehicle life-cycle analytics, from product planning through manufacturing, sales and into automotive aftermarkets."
LMC Automotive became a top rival to IHS in 2011, when it acquired the forecasting division of J.D. Power and Associates.