Among the nation's publicly traded dealership groups, UnitedAuto Group Inc. may be poised to have the strongest third quarter.
The company has expanded aggressively in the past two months, acquiring 16 dealerships plus a 75 percent interest in 10 others. Most of the dealerships are in Europe.
This expansion will add as much as $500 million to UnitedAuto's annual revenues - insurance against a possible U.S. economic downturn caused by rising interest rates. More than 20 percent of UnitedAuto's revenue is from overseas operations.
UnitedAuto's third-quarter sales for stores owned at least a year will rise an average of 3 percent to 5 percent, company spokesman Tony Pordon predicted.
Industry sales "were down a little bit in June, but that doesn't necessarily scare us," he said. "The third quarter is typically the best quarter so we remain optimistic that we'll continue to do well."
UnitedAuto of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has dealerships in 20 states and continues to make acquisitions in major U.S. markets.
In recent months, U.S. dealership groups' stock prices have lagged those of automakers and suppliers. But UnitedAuto has done well consistently. Among publicly traded retailers, UnitedAuto posted the best second-quarter and three-year returns.
The company's stock jumped to $30.65 a share at the close of the second quarter after opening at $27.40 on April 1.