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DailyTidings.com
  • Lithia Motors' first quarter earnings up

  • Lithia Motors kept on a roll during the first quarter of 2014, reporting a 12.1 percent increase in its net income to more than $24.7 million, up from $22.1 million in early 2013.
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  • Lithia Motors kept on a roll during the first quarter of 2014, reporting a 12.1 percent increase in its net income to more than $24.7 million, up from $22.1 million in early 2013.
    The Medford auto retailer reported revenue of nearly $1.1 billion in the quarter, up 19.4 percent from $903.1 million a year earlier.
    The company's adjusted net income from continuing operations for the quarter was $27.1 million, or $1.03 per share, compared to $21.9 million, or 84 cents per share a year ago.
    Lithia reported same store sales jumped 12 percent, new vehicle same store sales rose 10 percent, and used vehicle same store sales soared 19 percent.
    Lithia CEO Bryan DeBoer told analysts service, body and part sales gains, as well as warranty work contributed to the record month.
    "March was a solid month for national new car sales with a (seasonally adjusted annual rate) of 16.3 million, the highest level since November 2007," DeBoer said. "March was also the best month in our company's history in both revenue and pre-tax profit."
    DeBoer said Lithia store leaders increased used vehicle volume by 12 percent, edging closer to the company's goal of selling 75 used units per store per month.
    "We believe opportunities remain for continued improvement and are optimistic for 2014," he said.
    Lithia operates 100 stores again, topping the century mark for the first time since its restructuring during the credit crunch of 2008. During the first quarter, the company bought Island Honda in Kahului, Honolulu GMC Buick Cadillac, and Honolulu Volkswagen in Hawaii; and Stockton Volkswagen in Stockton, Calif.,
    Earlier this month, it acquired Access Ford Lincoln in Corpus Christi, Texas and opened Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Wasilla in Wasilla, Alaska.
    "We've purchased eight stores and opened one location since October 2013, with total estimated annual revenues of $380 million," DeBoer said. "This represents an increase of 9 percent over our full year 2013 total revenues."
    Lithia ended the quarter with $22 million in the cash till and $133 million in available credit. It also has approximately $193 million of real estate, which could produce $145 million worth of liquidity.
    The company announced a 16-cent per share dividend for the first quarter, an increase of 3 cents over the previous quarter. It will be paid on May 23 to shareholders of record on May 9.
    — Greg Stiles
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