FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — AutoNation, the country's largest car dealership chain, rode the U.S. auto sales recovery to a 13 percent net profit increase in the third quarter.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company said Thursday that it earned $92.6 million, or 75 cents per share, compared with $81.6 million, or 66 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose almost 14 percent to $4.47 billion.
But the earnings fell short of Wall Street's expectations. Analysts polled by data provider FactSet expected earnings of 77 cents per share on revenue of $4.44 billion.
Shares of AutoNation Inc. slipped 58 cents to $47.99 in morning trading.
All of AutoNation's business units — new and used car sales, parts and service, and finance and insurance — reported increased revenue for the quarter, the company said in a statement.
"The auto sales recovery has continued to build momentum," Chief Financial Officer Mike Short said in remarks prepared for a conference call with analysts and reporters.
U.S. sales ran at an annual rate of about 15.4 million during the first nine months of the year, and AutoNation said it expects the market will finish the year in the mid-15 million sales range. That's up from 14.5 million last year and far higher than 10.4 million in 2009, a 30-year low.