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DETROIT, July 18 (Reuters) - AutoNation Inc, the largest U.S. auto dealer group, reported a higher second-quarter profit on Thursday as new-vehicle sales jumped 11 percent, and reaffirmed its outlook for industry new-vehicle sales this year.
"When I said the industry would sell mid-15 million units this year, we were one of the most optimistic," Chief Executive Mike Jackson said in a telephone interview. "At the halfway point, I'm very happy to say I'm confident about where the industry is headed for this year."
In maintaining his outlook for industry sales, Jackson cited the need of consumers to replace aging vehicles, new products from manufacturers and attractive financing deals. He said buyers had adjusted to gasoline prices around $3.50 a gallon and it would take prices rising to $5.00 a gallon to alter buying behavior.
AutoNation's net income rose 14.4 percent to $89.9 million, or 73 cents a share, from $78.6 million, or 64 cents a share, a year earlier. The results matched analysts' expectations, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue grew 13 percent to $4.4 billion, above the $4.33 billion analysts had expected. Retail new-vehicle unit sales rose 11 percent, while sales on a same-store basis increased 7 percent.
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company said it had completed the rebranding of its stores to the parent company's name.