AutoNation Inc. is on its biggest buying binge since its initial rollup in the late 1990s, and executives say they're not done yet.
The nation's largest retailer last week announced a deal to buy Honda and Hyundai stores in Phoenix and a Toyota store in Dallas with combined annual revenues of $250 million. When added to the six Texas stores that AutoNation acquired in December, it makes for deals worth combined annual revenue of $825 million in under five months.
"You would have to go back to the early days of AutoNation" to top buying activity like that, CEO Mike Jackson told Automotive News after also announcing a 14 percent gain in net income for the first quarter. "We're out there, clearly."
AutoNation is actively pursuing other possible deals, Jackson said. The company is in discussions on 15 to 20 possible transactions at any one time, he said.
The pending purchases of SanTan Honda Superstore, Hyundai of Tempe and Don Davis Toyota- Scion fill in gaps in those markets on AutoNation's list of core vehicle brands, executives said.
The key brands are Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram.
Gaps in the core brands remain to some degree in all 15 of the company's geographic markets, COO Michael Maroone said, and AutoNation would consider deals in any of them. "But certainly our core states of California, Florida and Texas continue to deliver big for us," he said. "We want to make sure we've got our footprint filled out in those markets."