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AutoNation Inc. ( AN - Analyst Report ) recorded a significant rise in new vehicles sales in May 2012. Sales for the month surged 45% to 23,763 units, mainly driven by a boost in demand for imported vehicles along with higher sales across all segments compared with the comparable month a year ago.
Sales in the Domestic segment went up 21% to 7.260 units. The segment comprises retail automotive franchises that sell vehicles manufactured by Ford Motor Co. ( F - Analyst Report ) , General Motors Company ( GM - Analyst Report ) and Chrysler.
Sales in the Import segment hiked 78% to 2,300 units. The segment comprises retail automotive franchises that sell vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Corp. ( TM - Analyst Report ) , Honda Motor Co. ( HMC - Analyst Report ) and Nissan Motor Co. ( NSANY ) .
Sales in the Premium Luxury segment swelled 23% to 4,203 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.
Last month, light vehicle sales in the U.S. grew 25.7% to 1.33 million units from 1.06 million units in May 2011. Seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) was 13.78 million vehicles. The boost in sales was driven by increased selling days along with revival in demand, favorable credits and higher incentives.
AutoNation posted first-quarter 2012 earnings of 56 cents per share, up 22% from 46 cents in the year-ago quarter, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents.
Revenues in the quarter rose 10.4% to $3.7 billion from $3.3 billion in the corresponding quarter last year. This was higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.6 billion. The higher revenues were attributable to improvement in new vehicle sales. The company’s effort to expand its dealer network by investing in existing stores and service centers will help it outperform it peers.
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.
Currently, AutoNation retains a Zacks #1 Rank, which translates into a short-term (1 to 3 months) Strong Buy rating. We have a long-term (more than 6 months) Outperform recommendation on the stock.
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