Wednesday, February 2, 2011

AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN): Q4 Earnings Preview 2010

AutoNation Inc. (NYSE: AN), the largest U.S. car retailer, is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter earnings before the opening bell on Thursday, February 3, 2011. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of 36 cents per share on revenue of $3.09 billion. In the year ago quarter, the company reported earnings of 29 cents per share on revenue of $2.82 billion.

AutoNation, Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates as an automotive retailer in the United States. As of December 31, 2009, the Company owned and operated 246 new vehicle franchises from 203 stores located in the United States.

In the preceding third quarter, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company's net income was $56.9 million, or 38 cents a share, compared to $65 million, or 36 cents a share, earned in the same period a year earlier. Profit from continuing operations came to 39 cents a share in the third quarter. Revenue rose to $3.27 billion from $2.89 billion.  Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of 42 cents a share on revenue of $3.21 billion. 

Early in January, the company said that its retail new vehicle unit sales increased 14 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous year. Domestic sales were up 22 percent, imports increased 13 percent and premium luxury rose 4 percent.

Auto sales rose in the U.S. in 2010 for the first time since the recession. For the year, new car and truck sales came in at 11.6 million, up 11 percent from the previous year as the economy improved and consumers gained the confidence to make big purchases. But sales are still far below the highs of 17 million seen in the middle of the last decade. Automakers are predicting a gradual recovery over the next several years.  Surviving auto dealerships have also benefitted from a decline in competition, as many in the industry were forced to fold during the recession.

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