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Group 1 Sees Ford, Chevrolet Gaining for ‘Foreseeable Future’

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet and Ford Motor Co.’s namesake brand may increase their market shares for the “foreseeable future,” said the chief executive officer of the Group 1 Automotive Inc. dealership chain.

Group 1, the Houston-based owner of 101 dealerships, is pursuing acquisitions of Chevrolet and Ford stores for the first time since 2005, CEO Earl Hesterberg said in a telephone interview.

“We didn’t want to invest in shrinking businesses,” Hesterberg said Nov. 16. “We wouldn’t be afraid to invest in them right now. That has changed. Both Ford and Chevy are very strong brands and have great prospects to grow market share in the foreseeable future.”

Domestic brands accounted for 14 percent of Group 1’s new-vehicle sales in the third quarter, down from 29 percent in 2006, the company said in its earnings presentation last month. Group 1 reported net income of $19 million, the highest since the third quarter of 2007.

U.S. auto sales in November are “stable to positive” and “in line with what we saw in October,” Hesterberg said. The company’s board declared a 10 cent dividend on Nov. 11 after suspending a payout in February last year.

“If we thought there was any risk to another downturn, our board would not have approved a dividend,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Craig Trudell in New York at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net.

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