AutoNation posts higher profit despite severe winter weather

DETROIT, April 17 Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:17am EDT

DETROIT, April 17 (Reuters) - AutoNation Inc, the largest U.S. automobile dealer group, on Thursday posted a higher first-quarter profit despite the severe winter weather that slowed sales.

The company still expects the U.S. auto industry's new-vehicle sales this year to rise 3 to 5 percent, ending above 16 million, Chief Executive Mike Jackson said in a statement. Last year, the industry sold 15.6 million new cars and light trucks.

Jackson previously said business in the last 10 days of March was "simply phenomenal."

AutoNation's net income in the first quarter rose to $95.1 million, or 78 cents a share, compared with $83 million, or 67 a share, in the year earlier period.

Excluding one-time items, it earned 75 cents a share, two cents above what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected.

Sales in the quarter rose 7 percent from last year to $4.36 billion, slightly above the $4.32 billion analysts had expected. (Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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