AutoNation 2Q profit climbs 12 percent

The Associated PressJuly 17, 2014 

— AutoNation Inc. (AN) on Thursday reported earnings that rose by 12 percent in its second quarter, but its earnings fell short of analysts' expectations.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, company said net income increased to $100.4 million, or 83 cents per share, from $89.9 million, or 73 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. The income was lower than Wall Street expected. Analysts polled by data provider FactSet predicted 87 cents per share.

But CEO Mike Jackson said in an interview that the nation's largest auto dealership chain doesn't give guidance, so analyst estimates can be off from time to time.

"We haven't told the analysts what we're going to do, so they're on their own," Jackson said Thursday, adding that the company's expenses were higher than a year ago as it continues to invest in digital marketing and changing its brand image from local dealership names to AutoNation.

The chain said revenue rose 8.2 percent to $4.79 billion from $4.43 billion in the same quarter a year earlier, and beat Wall Street forecasts. Analysts expected $4.79 billion, according to FactSet.

Jackson said he expects a strong second half for U.S. auto sales, with the market finishing the year around 16.5 million. That's the highest number since 2007.

Shares of AutoNation were down 3.2 percent, or $1.93, to $58.90 in premarket trading Thursday. The stock has risen $11.14, or 22 percent, since the start of the year. It closed Wednesday at $60.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased 7.2 percent. The stock has increased $15.36, or 34 percent, in the last 12 months.

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