(Bloomberg) -- Sonic Automotive Inc. told regulators on Monday it delayed the filing of its annual report because of weak accounting controls at its dealerships.
Sonic said in a regulatory filing it believes that financial results will be the same as reported on Feb. 20, when the Charlotte, N.C.-based company said that 2012 adjusted profit climbed 20 percent to $1.71 a share.
U.S. auto dealerships last year benefited from a 13 percent increase in new light-vehicle sales, the biggest annual gain since 1984.
"The company has determined that a material weakness existed in the effectiveness of controls over its dealership level accounting processes resulting from the aggregation of control deficiencies," Sonic said today in the filing.
The company said that it plans to file its annual report within a 15-day extension period.
Sonic owns and operates 111 dealerships.
Shares in Sonic, the third-largest U.S. auto-dealership group, fell 3.1 percent to $23.60 at 4:04 p.m. EDT today. They had dropped as much as 8.4 percent earlier, in the company's biggest intraday decline since Oct. 15.
Sonic shares rose 17 percent this year through March 15, exceeding the Standard & Poor's 500 Index's 9.4 percent increase during that span.
AutoNation Inc. and Penske Automotive Group Inc. are the two largest U.S. auto-dealership groups by number of new vehicle sold.