AutoNation Lowers U.S. Automobile Sales Outlook because of Japan disaster image

AutoNation Inc., the country’s largest auto dealership chain, lowered its forecast for 2011 light-vehicle sales in the country because of Japan-related supply constraints.

“We expect production disruptions will significantly impact product availability from Japanese auto manufacturers in the second and third quarters of 2011,” Chairman and Chief Executive Mike Jackson said.

Shipments from Japan-based automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. will be significantly reduced beginning in May and through the end of the year, said Mike Jackson, AutoNation’s chief executive officer.
Jackson also discussed rising gas prices and their impact on sales.

“That means there will be in total a shortage of product in the marketplace and not enough to support 12.8 million” sales, Jackson said today in a telephone interview. U.S. automakers such as Ford and General Motors Co. (GM) “can make up their production plan, but it’s asking too much to say they can produce more.”

The company’s stock closed at $33.01 on Tuesday, down $1.50, or 4.35%, from Monday’s close.

For March, AutoNation AN -4.35% posted a 19% gain in new car sales to 22,246 vehicles. Domestics rose 21% while imports added 19% and premium luxury sales increased by 13%. Total sales jumped by 23% in the first quarter to 54,198 cars and trucks.