Improving auto sales in the first quarter boosted sales and profits for the six publicly traded dealership groups.
As a result, shares in Penske Automotive Group Inc. surged to a new four-year high last week after the nation's second-biggest dealership group reported a 67 percent jump in first-quarter profits, helped by higher new- and used-vehicle sales.
Penske shares closed up 12.3 percent at $23.06 on Thursday, April 28. That represented the highest level for the stock since 2007, the last strong year for U.S. car sales.
The company said net income totaled $33.9 million for the quarter, up from $20.3 million a year ago. Revenues in the quarter jumped about 16 percent to $2.9 billion, Penske said.
-- AutoNation Inc., the nation's largest auto retailer, posted a 26 percent increase in first-quarter profit while lowering its forecast for U.S. industry sales this year because of vehicle-supply disruptions after last month's earthquake in Japan.
Net profit rose to $69.4 million from $55.2 million in the first quarter a year ago. Revenue increased 17 percent to $3.31 billion.
The company reduced its forecast for industry light-vehicle sales this year to the "mid-12 million" unit range from 12.8 million previously.
-- Sonic Automotive Inc., the third-largest group, posted first-quarter net profits of $15 million on revenue of $1.84 billion compared with $4.2 million in net income and revenues of $1.54 billion during the year-ago period.
-- Group 1 Automotive Inc., the fourth-largest dealership group, reported a 49 percent jump in first-quarter profits. The company reported adjusted earnings of $15.5 million.
Group 1 posted earnings of $10.4 million, or 44 cents per share, during the same quarter last year. Total revenue rose 18.3 percent to $1.4 billion.
-- Asbury Automotive Group Inc., which ranks as the fifth-largest public dealership group and sixth-largest group overall, posted quarterly earnings of $19.9 million compared with $7.4 million a year ago.
The group's quarterly revenue rose 18 percent to $1 billion.
-- Lithia Motors Inc., the sixth-largest public dealership group and ninth-largest group overall, reported first-quarter net income of $8.7 million on revenue of $603 million, compared with profits of $1.3 million on revenues of $459.2 million a year ago.