AutoNation posts impressive earnings in the fourth quarter

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 6, 2011

AutoNation Inc., the nation’s largest car retailer, boosted fourth-quarter profits and posted record per-share earnings for the quarter and for the full year of 2010. This good performance is being attributed to cost cuts made during the recession, manufacturer incentives, and vehicle sales that outpaced the industry.

In the final three months of 2010, revenue jumped 16 percent to $3.2 billion and AutoNation reported a net income of $67.3 million, up 9 percent from the same quarter last year. The retailer reported full-year earnings of $226.6 million, up 14 percent from 2009 and revenue for 2010 rose 17 percent to $12.5 billion.

AutoNation said its advance last month was led by a 40 percent increase in domestic-brand sales. Pickup sales increased 39 percent. The retailer, with the industry's improved outlook, expects total U.S. sales of 12.8 million vehicles in 2011 and it is once again acquiring dealerships.

AutoNation announced that it is buying Ft. Myers Toyota in Fort Myers, Fla. That deal follows some large acquisitions in the second half of 2010. CEO Mike Jackson said improvements were in all areas of the retailer's operations and he expects the gains to continue as the market rebounds.

Jackson said the retailer has been consistently demonstrating its ability to perform in what it expects to be a multi-year recovery in auto retail. Such expectations were strengthened by a 24 percent increase in AutoNation's new-vehicle sales in January 2011, compared with an industry-wide gain of 17 percent.

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