Large public auto retailers continue to snap up dealerships. But their acquisition pace is not as torrid as in the late 1990s, when they could double their size in a year.
The six largest public retailers say they intend to increase revenues through acquisitions by 3 percent to 22 percent in 2004. The most sought markets are California and Texas.
Group 1 Automotive Inc. of Houston has the most ambitious goal. It plans to increase its revenue by $1 billion through acquisitions this year. If the company meets that objective, it says its annual revenue would jump to $5.5 billion.
Group 1 this month acquired the Peterson Automotive Group, a four-store California chain, and a central Texas dealership for about $60 million in cash and stock.
In 2004 Group 1 has acquired 16 franchises with combined annual revenue of $690 million.
The other largest dealership groups have achieved or are closing in on their targets:
UnitedAuto says it intends to add as much as $500 million through acquisitions this year.