At Asbury Automotive Group Inc., of Duluth, Ga., revenue and net fell about 5 percent due to the storms. All 24 of its Florida stores, for example, closed briefly because of Hurricane Irma.
At Sonic, of Charlotte, N.C., third-quarter net income rose 7.3 percent from a year earlier to $19.4 million despite severe storms disrupting sales in two of Sonic's biggest markets and continued pressure on vehicle profit margins, most notably in BMW where a lack of fresh product has hurt sales.
BMW is about 30 percent of Sonic's profit, said Jeff Dyke, Sonic's executive vice president of operations. "We expect that to continue to be a struggle for us until the middle of next year" when BMW has fresh products.
Lithia and Penske said their BMW sales are below year-ago levels. Through September, BMW brand's U.S. sales fell 4.3 percent, vs. an industrywide drop of 1.7 percent.
The storms' impact isn't over. Penske's seven stores in Puerto Rico suffered "significant damage" from Hurricane Maria. Sales there were down 50 percent through Oct. 25, he said.
"We are still on generator sets at our locations," Penske said. "We have been paying our people. But it's a day-to-day situation. When you look at Ponce and Mayaguez, that was a real storm that went through there and we had some significant damage."
There is weak demand for vehicle service work at Penske's stores there as Puerto Ricans focus on their homes first, he said. That will be seen in Penske's fourth-quarter results, he said.
Asbury and Sonic have low expectations for making up for the service business they lost to the storms.
"It's empty hotel rooms that you didn't fill for the night, so when the business comes back you can't duplicate the production in that shop," said Asbury COO David Hult, who will become CEO on Jan. 1. "You only have so much capacity. Even when you are closed and there [is] pent-up demand, the shop all of a sudden can't handle twice the amount of work."