DETROIT -- Auto dealer Group 1 Automotive Inc. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter earnings surged by nearly 60 percent due to strong year-end sales of new vehicles.
Parts, service, finance and insurance revenues also bolstered the company's bottom line.
The Houston conglomerate said its net income rose to $19.6 million, or 84 cents per share, from $12.3 million, or 53 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.
Revenues rose 6.7 percent to $1.1 billion.
Group 1 said it sees moderate growth in the new-vehicle market in 2004 and a stable market for used vehicles. It also forecast continued strength in the parts and service market, adding that it sees full-year operating income of $3.20 to $3.40 per share compared with a previous estimate of $3.10 to $3.30.
Wall Street per-share earnings estimates for the fourth quarter had ranged between 70 cents and 64 cents, with an average of 67 cents, according to a survey of five analysts by Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group PLC.
For 2004, Reuters Research said analysts had projected earnings of $3.29 per share.
Group 1 said it plans to continue its acquisition strategy in 2004 and will seek to expand into new markets, targeting dealerships with aggregate annual revenues of about $1 billion.