AutoNation Q4 profit up 3% image

AutoNation Inc. (AN), the largest auto retailer in the United States on Thursday said its net income climbed 3 percent as it sold more new and used cars, particularly luxury and U.S. brands.

The company rose 1.5 percent to $36.86 at 11:51 a.m. New York time after touching $38.20.
It earned $69.4 million, or 49 cents per share, in the quarter.
Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 rose 13 percent to $3.68 billion from $3.25 billion, beating Wall Street’s estimate of $3.55 billion.

The company said its earnings per share from continuing operations were a record 51 cents, up from 45 cents in the previous year. Sales for the year were up 11 percent.

AutoNation said it continues to buy back stock to benefit its shareholders. In 2011, it bought 17.1 million shares for $583.4 million at an average price of $34.14 per share. It bought nearly 10 million shares in the fourth quarter and so far this year, Jackson said.

“The auto recovery is under way and we’re at a positive point in the economic recovery,” Jackson said today in a phone interview with Bloomberg.