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AutoNation Profit Rises as Sales Outpace Industry

AutoNation Inc., the largest U.S. retailer of new cars and trucks, reported quarterly profit that rose 13 percent as its sales outpaced an industry on track for its best year since 2007.

Third-quarter net income increased to $92.6 million from $81.6 million a year earlier, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company said today in a statement. Profit from continuing operations climbed 14 percent to 75 cents a share, trailing the 77-cent average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales increased 14 percent to $4.47 billion.

AutoNation Chief Executive Officer Mike Jackson has touted a housing recovery in California and Florida and surging energy production in Texas and Colorado, all among the states with the most AutoNation franchises. The dealer group’s presence in those regions has paced an 11 percent increase in the company’s retail sales of new vehicles through the year’s first nine months.

“We have very dense positions in those markets,” Jackson, 64, said in a telephone interview. “We have the best offering of products ever, and there is still good discipline on the incentive side. It’s a very healthy industry.”

AutoNation forecasts industrywide U.S. vehicle sales to climb to the mid-15 million-unit range in 2013 from 14.5 million last year. Deliveries of cars and light trucks rose 8.1 percent to 11.8 million this year through September, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

AutoNation rose 1.7 percent to $49.41 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 24 percent this year, compared with the 23 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s increase.

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