Bilia led European auto retailers by returning 14.9 percent to investors in the third quarter.
The Swedish car dealer also is tops among retailers over the last three years with a return on investment of 335.8 percent.
In the second quarter, Bilia nearly doubled its operating result to 82 million kronor (about E9.1 million) compared with 47 million kronor on a comparable asset basis in the second quarter last year.
Sales rose to 3.41 billion kronor from 2.95 billion kronor in the Q2 of 2003.
The improvements reflect increased orders for new cars and lower costs within the service business. Sales were also boosted by the December 2003 acquisition of Eneqvist Bil AB, a Volvo/Renault dealer with 130 employees and sales of 500 million kronor.
Philip Wylie, automotive team leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance, says Bilia will try to sell its Micro car-parts division, which employees 170 people at its 15 stores.
Revenues at Micro fell to 161 million kronor last year from 260 million kronor when Bilia bought the company four years ago.
Another retailer reporting positive numbers in Q3 was Stern Groep. Shareholders' investments grew 4.7 percent.
The share price rose after the company said in July that its main shareholders, Egeria and NPM, investment funds that together own
49 percent of Stern, are considering a delisting. The prospect of the publicly traded company going private helped the share price as investors anticipated the buyback would be made at a premium.
First-half figures were mediocre. Net income fell 34 percent to E4 million, net sales dropped 4 percent to E38 million and car sales are not expected to increase in the second half. But 2004 full year net profit is expected to exceed the E10.5 million posted in 2003, PwC's Wylie says.
Pendragon's shareholder return was last in Q3 as shareholders lost 21.1 percent of the value of their investment. But over a one- and three-year period, Pendragon is among the best performers, neck and neck with Bilia of Sweden.
Pendragon reported first-half profits that were up 71 percent on the first half of 2003. The figures are inflated by the CD Bramall acquisition in January. But even after stripping out CD Bramall's impact, profit grew 10 percent.
Pendragon, Europe's largest auto retail group, represents 29 brands operating out of more than 250 dealerships in the UK, Germany and the US.
With net debt of £287 million (about E417 million), amounting to a debt-to-equity ratio of 169 percent, Pendragon's management says major acquisitions are off the agenda. It will once again consider big takeovers once its debt ratio falls to 70 percent to 100 percent, which may take 18 months to achieve, company bosses say.
In the meantime, Pendragon wants to expand US operations in California where it generates annual sales of up to £200 million. Trevor Finn, Pendragon's CEO, says there are better opportunities in the US in the next five years than there are in the UK.