DETROIT (Reuters) -- Penske Automotive Group, the second-biggest U.S.-based auto dealership group, today posted a 67 percent gain in fourth-quarter net income on an 11 percent sales rise.
The company, in a statement, said it posted earnings of $47.7 million during the quarter compared with $28.5 million during the same quarter last year.
Penske said it posted revenue of $2.96 billion, up from $2.67 billion a year earlier.
Income from continuing operations was 47 cents per share, compared to expectations of 40 cents per share, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
For the year, Penske said it posted earnings of $176.9 million, up from $108.3 million in 2010. Revenue increased 12 percent to $11.6 billion, the company said.
CEO Roger Penske said 2011 was the most profitable year in the company's history, which helped it expand its business with about $1 billion in "opportunistic acquisitions," including a British auto group bought last month.
"Our fourth quarter results continue to demonstrate the strength of the automotive retail model and the benefit from our premium/luxury brand mix in both the U.S. and international markets," Penske said in a statement.
"We produced another outstanding quarter of profitability while generating same-store revenue increases in each area of our business. I am extremely pleased with the continued strong performance of our used vehicle business, which increased same-store retail unit sales by 16 percent and same-store retail revenue by 14 percent."
Penske Automotive has benefited from the gradual improvement of the global auto industry since the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Auto dealership groups like Penske outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index in 2011 by 25 percent, according to analysts from Sterne Agee.
U.S. auto sales are expected to rise to 14 million new vehicles in 2012 from 12.8 million in 2011, the National Automobile Dealers Association said.
Same-store retail revenue increased for Penske in the fourth quarter by 8 percent.
Average gross profit margin per new vehicle sold rose 8.4 percent, and the average transaction price for a new vehicle rose 4.4 percent to $38,800, above the industry average because Penske is weighted heavily toward premium and luxury cars.
At the end of 2011, premium brands of cars accounted for 70 percent of Penske's new vehicle sales, up from 68 percent a year earlier. BMW, Volkswagen AG's Audi brand and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz accounted for 48 percent of new vehicle sales in the fourth quarter.
Penske Automotive ranks No. 2 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups with 2010 new-vehicle sales of 155,352 units.