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AutoNation Inc. (AN - Analyst Report) announced a 12% rise in new vehicles sales to 20,534 units in April 2012. The improvement in sales was attributable to higher sales in all its segments compared to the comparable month of the prior year.
Sales in the Domestic segment went up 9% to 6,306 units. The segment comprises of retail automotive franchises that sell vehicles manufactured by Ford Motor Co. (F - Analyst Report), General Motors Company (GM - Analyst Report) and Chrysler. During the month, the automotive retailer’s sales of Ford vehicles went up 4%.
Sales in the Import segment hiked 16% to 10,358 units. The segment comprises of retail automotive franchises that sell vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Corp. , Honda Motor Co. (HMC - Analyst Report) and Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY). The retailer’s sales of Toyota-made vehicles escalated 29% in the reported month.
Sales in the Premium Luxury segment swelled 10% to 3,870 units during the month. The segment consists of retail automotive franchises that sell vehicles manufactured by Daimler AG’s (DDAIF) Mercedes Benz, BMW and Lexus. The company’s sales of Mercedes Benz vehicles rose 16% during the month.
Light vehicle sales in the U.S depicted a sluggish growth of 2.3% to 1.18 million units from 1.16 million units in April last year. Meanwhile, it went up 9.5% to seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 14.42 million units from 13.17 million units in the year-ago month.
The sluggish growth was attributable to lower sales performance of the two biggest players in the industry – General Motors and Ford, and fewer selling days (due to more Sundays in the month compared with April 2011). However, auto sales were favorably affected by fuel-efficient lineups and pent-up demand.
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, AutoNation is the largest automotive retailer in the U.S. The company owns and operates 260 new vehicle franchises that sell 32 brands located in the major metropolitan markets in 15 states. The company offers a range of automotive products and services, including new vehicle, used vehicles, vehicle maintenance and repair services, vehicle parts, vehicle protection products and other aftermarket products.
AutoNation posted its first-quarter 2012 profits of 56 cents per share, up 22% from 46 cents in the year-ago quarter, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents per share.
Revenues in the quarter rose 10.4% to $3.7 billion from $3.3 billion in the same quarter last year. It was higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.6 billion. The higher revenues were attributable to improvement in retail new vehicle sales.
The company’s effort to expand its dealer network by investing in existing stores and service centers will help it to outgrow peers. With this, the company retains a Zacks #1 Rank, which implies a short-term Strong Buy rating.