AutoNation Inc., the nation’s largest automotive retailer, said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit rose 30 percent, as gains from a tax adjustment and a buyback of some debt offset a plunge in demand for new vehicles.
The company’s adjusted profit beat Wall Street predictions by a penny, but the sales fell short. Company officials attributed the sales shortfall to continued weak consumer demand for new vehicles, along with tight credit markets that made it hard for some customers to get affordable financing.
AutoNation earned $67.1 million, or 38 cents per share, up from $51.7 million, or 28 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.
Results were boosted by items totaling 28 cents per share, including an 18 cents-per-share tax adjustment and 14 cents-per-share gain from the buyback of senior notes. Excluding one-time items, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company posted an adjusted profit of 12 cents per share.
Revenue slid 34 percent to $2.74 billion from $4.14 billion, as new vehicle sales plunged 41 percent to $1.43 billion and used vehicle sales dropped 33 percent to $640.9 million.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of 11 cents per share, excluding special gains and losses, on sales of $3.06 billion.