DETROIT, April 18 AutoNation Inc, the
largest U.S. auto dealer group, posted a stronger-than-expected
profit on Thursday, its best quarterly result ever, on increased
demand for both new and used cars.
The company also reaffirmed its forecast for U.S. industry
new-vehicle sales this year in the mid-15 million range, which
would be up from 14.5 million last year.
"As far as the American consumer, we see the bright spots -
housing, energy, automotive, high tech," AutoNation Chief
Executive Mike Jackson said in an interview.
"And we see the American consumer ready to move on. They're
not transfixed or paralyzed by the soap opera in Washington.
We're moving into the phase where this is a self-sustaining
Jackson sees "tepid growth" of 2 percent to 3 percent for
the U.S. economy.
AutoNation's net income in the first quarter rose 14 percent
to $83 million, or 67 cents a share, from $73 million, or 55
cents a share, a year earlier.
Earnings from continuing operations were 68 cents a share, 4
cents better than the average forecast of analysts polled by
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 12 percent to almost $4.1 billion, above the
$4.03 billion analysts had expected.
Retail new-vehicle unit sales rose 9 percent overall and 6
percent on a same-store basis, while used-vehicle unit sales
increased 10 percent overall and 7 percent on a same-store
AutoNation said its rebranding strategy, under which it is
renaming its stores to the parent company's name, is about 30
percent done and will be completed in the second quarter.
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company also said it has
signed deals to buy a Honda and a Hyundai store in Phoenix and a
Toyota store in Dallas. The deals, expected to close in the
second quarter, will add about $250 million in combined annual