FORT LAUDERDALE -- AutoNation, the country's largest car dealership chain, took advantage of growing U.S. car and truck sales to post a 31 percent increase in fourth-quarter net earnings, sending its shares higher. CEO Mike Jackson said Thursday that he expects the strong performance to continue this year even though U.S. auto sales growth is expected to slow.
The Fort Lauderdale company earned $109.4 million, or 89 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31 compared with $83.2 million, or 67 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose more than 8 percent to $4.52 billion. The company earned 83 cents per share from continuing operations, and that matched expectations of analysts polled by FactSet. Analysts expected $4.59 billion in revenue.
The strong earnings came as the company passed the one-year anniversary of changing all of its 269 dealership franchises to the AutoNation name, Jackson said. AutoNation's performance was driven by growth in all of its business sectors -- new vehicles, used vehicles, service and finance and insurance, the company said in a statement.