DETROIT (Reuters) -- Group 1 Automotive, the fourth-largest U.S. dealership group, said earnings nearly doubled in the fourth quarter on higher sales of new vehicles.
The Houston-based company said net income was $20.9 million, or 90 cents per share, up from $10.57 million, or 45 cents per share a year earlier.
Sales rose 13 percent to $1.63 billion.
For the full year 2011, Group 1 revenue increased 10.4 percent to $6.08 billion.
Adjusted for one-time items, earnings per share during the final quarter were 94 cents, beating analysts' average forecast of 87 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Gross profit from sales of new vehicles increased 23.6 percent, while gross profit from sales of used cars was up 14 percent.
Group 1 CEO Earl Hesterberg said he expects 2012 U.S. light vehicle sales will rise to 14 million, up 9 percent from 2011.
In a statement released today, Hesterberg said he was especially pleased with the results because of "the supply challenges we faced with most of our Japanese brand stores for the majority of the year and in a sales environment that was about 25 percent lower than our previous record year in 2006.
"The strong results reflect the strength of our operating team as well as the significant improvements we have made to our operating model during the past several years," he said.
Group 1 ranks No. 4 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups with new-vehicle sales of 97,511 in 2010.