Asbury rebounds in Q1 from coronavirus-impaired quarter in 2020

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Net income nearly increased fivefold for Asbury Automotive Group Inc. in the first quarter this year thanks to favorable comparisons with the same time last year during the coronavirus pandemic. The retailer also posted record-high adjusted earnings per share.

Asbury, the sixth-largest U.S. new-vehicle retailer, on Tuesday reported net income of $92.8 million in the first quarter, up from $19.5 million a year earlier. In 2019’s first quarter, Asbury posted net income of $40.9 million.

The Duluth, Ga., company also reported revenue of $2.19 billion, up 36 percent.

Asbury’s core business lines improved by double-digit percentages across the board, with gross profit for finance-and-insurance surging 25 percent and parts and service profit up 21 percent.

New- and used-vehicle sales increased 24 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Asbury CEO David Hult said in a statement that the quarter was “very active” for the company.

“In addition to posting record performance, we successfully launched our online car-buying platform, Clicklane, across our entire store base,” Hult said. “Although we are only one quarter into our five-year plan, we feel more confident than ever in our strategic direction and the future growth of Asbury.”

The company’s five-year plan, rolled out alongside Clicklane’s debut in December, involves substantial growth to more than double the size of the company.

The goal to reach $20 billion in annualized revenue by 2025, up from the current $8 billion in annual revenue, involves same-store growth of $2 billion, $5 billion in revenue from Clicklane and $5 billion in acquisitions, Asbury said.

Asbury’s adjusted net income of $90.7 million accounted for a pretax gain on a $3.5 million legal settlement, a $1.1 million gain on the sale of real estate and a $1.8 million cost on other real estate charges.

Record: Adjusted earnings per share of $4.68, up from $1.80.

Sales: New-vehicle sales rose 24 percent to 27,259. Used-vehicle sales rose 16 percent to 23,519.

Same store sales: Same-store new-vehicle sales surged 15 percent to 24,147, better than the 12 percent rise for all U.S. new light-vehicle sales in the first quarter, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center. Same-store used-vehicle sales rose 9.3 percent to 20,740.

Asbury ranks No. 6 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 95,165 new vehicles in 2020.

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