AutoNation Inc.'s fourth-quarter net income slipped 26 percent to $286.4 million while total revenue gained 2 percent to $6.7 million.
The company said it expects prices for new and used cars to decline this year as manufacturers crank up volumes and offer more incentives to price-sensitive buyers.
AutoNation, which pivoted to selling more used cars than new during the pandemic as chip shortages sapped inventory, has been bracing for lower car prices as auto production recovers.
CEO Mike Manley expects the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of light-vehicle sales to be close to 15 million this year, up from 13.7 million in 2022.
“You are going to see improved balance and level of inventory,” he said in a phone interview. “You’ll see it progressively more once you get out of the first quarter.”
The company's fourth-quarter results topped Wall Street expectations and shares rose 4.4 percent to $147.52 in premarket trading. The shares have rallied 32 percent this year.
AutoNation said its gross profit on each new car sold in the fourth quarter dropped 13 percent from a year earlier to $5,633, while it was down 10 percent for each used car. The decline was offset by controlling costs and boosting AutoNation’s parts and service business, which posted a 12 percent jump in gross profit, Manley said.