Measuring shareholder value for the awards is simple: Calculate how the value of $100 invested in a public company changes during the period, counting share price and assuming any dividends are reinvested.
In a second year of recovery for the U.S. auto industry, "delivering shareholder value is on the top of the minds of automotive executives," said Rick Hanna, global automotive leader for PwC.
Over one year, Lithia achieved a 55 percent return to lead all public dealership groups. The sector averaged a 25 percent gain.
Over three years, Lithia's share value increased almost sevenfold. That's more than double the growth rate of the retailing sector, which itself almost tripled.
Lithia, of Medford, Ore., ranks ninth on the Automotive News list of the top 125 dealership groups, with retail sales of 33,790 new vehicles in the United States in 2010.
PwC credited the sector's bounce to three factors: higher profits from continued financial and operational restructuring, better credit availability and fewer competitors after U.S. dealer consolidation.
The financial returns show the value of continued investment despite a difficult economic environment, Hanna said.