Why the buy-sell market is hungry

Conditions are ripe for a big buy-sell year. The 2014 pace of dealership consolidation already is almost double that of 2013, one broker says. And the market is likely to stay red-hot.

Large dealership groups are sitting on mounds of cash. They can leverage their operating cost advantage over small dealers, as well as low loan rates, to snap up stores. And investors outside the industry took notice when resurging auto sales led the country out of recession. Now, well-financed outsiders are elbowing in to buy stores. Mix in a positive outlook for U.S. car sales, and you have a rare win-win: Dealers can ask premium prices for their stores, and buyers will pay them because the return on investment still looks good.

Scroll down for the full package.

CHOMP, CHOMP

5 reasons why big groups are buying - and dealers are selling

THE NEW BUYERS

Dealerships' resiliency, margins look good to nonindustry investors

Plus: Audio excerpts from interviews with outside investors

CAPITAL IDEAS

Largest public and private groups are sitting on hoards of cash

THINKING BIG

Economies of scale, cost of capital position groups to buy small rivals

Dealers: Money's great, but where's the fun?

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