November 1, 2007 / 3:26 AM / 12 years ago

Lampert raises his stake in AutoNation <AN.N>

NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Edward Lampert’s hedge fund has raised its stake in AutoNation Inc (AN.N), pushing shares of the nation’s largest car dealership chain up nearly three percent on Wednesday.

Lampert’s ESL Investment disclosed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week that it had purchased an additional 701,000 shares of the company, worth about $12 million.

That brought ESL’s total stake in the firm to about 50.6 million shares, according to filing tracker, or about 27.5 percent of AutoNation’s shares outstanding.

Shares of AutoNation hit their lowest level since September 2004 last week, falling as low as $16.84 per share.

AutoNation’s chief executive said this month that auto sales were likely to stay under pressure as problems in the housing market, tighter credit and high gasoline prices have pushed consumers to defer big purchases.

ESL bought the shares last Friday, for prices ranging from $16.93 to $17.23 per share.

AutoNation shares rose 2.85 percent on Wednesday to close at $17.69 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Emily Chasan

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